MONTCLAIR, NJ - Nineteen high school students from New Jersey and New York spent five days engaged in learning the process for ethical innovation as part of the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School’s Ethical Leadership and Entrepreneurship program, held at -- and in partnership with -- the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair State University.

The participants spent their mornings hearing from guest speakers on topics such as ethics, marketing, branding, leadership, and innovation, llearning about different leadership approaches as they determined which style best suits their own personalities, while also gaining insight into the benefits of collaborating in a group composed of people with differing leadership styles.

Additionally, students were introduced to the concept of "disruption and innovation.” They recognized that although these skills are not easy, they are an integral part of 21st-century thinking. 

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“It was fascinating to watch the students develop their ideas through this very challenging innovation process,” said Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School. “The students needed to put ‘conventional thinking’ aside in order to create a human-centered design that would benefit society in a world that can now only be imagined. It was amazing! Our new partnership with Montclair State University’s Center for Innovation/MIX Lab was a fantastic opportunity for our ethics students, and will continue to be as we develop new and exciting entrepreneurial programs for the future.” 

Each afternoon, students were in the MIX Lab –– making and innovating for X, where X is the unknown. While in the Lab, they implemented the theory of "disruption and innovation," as they explored alternative uses for household items. For example, the students created a prototype for a cup on the 3D printer, and then determined an alternate, innovative use for the cup that was further developed as the week progressed.

The week culminated in team presentations before a panel of judges made up of the guest speakers and other industry leaders. Some of the products / services included:

  • An underwater living space;
  • A new mode of transportation;
  • An environmentally-friendly sustainable hotel with no floors or roofs;
  • A product that enabled people to live more of their life outside; and
  • A way to mourn differently.

“Innovation is the lingua franca of the 21st century and the students we partnered with from Kent Place are some of the most powerful young innovators we have ever worked with," said Jason Frasca, entrepreneurship instructor and startup mentor, Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, Montclair State University. "In one week, the students became transformative paradigm disruptors. We are preparing students to be innovation leaders in a very dynamic world.”

The Ethical Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program is an annual high school summer program offered through the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School. For more information, visit