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Where did C4 come from?

C4 was dreamed up by the York Capstone Network in 2018 and was pilot tested in 2019. Learn more about how we came to be below.

The C4 Origin Story

A Space Engineering professor (Franz Newland) and a Dance Studies professor (Danielle Robinson) walk into New Faculty Orientation…This is not the beginning of a joke, but the genesis of C4: The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom.  

Danielle and Franz ended up chatting about their capstone students, and how creating collaborative projects where their students could work together would be a really exciting way for them to appreciate their own skills and those of others, while tackling real challenges in the world. Not long after this meeting, Franz and Danielle founded the York Capstone Network to foster a strong capstone community at York. At the very first meeting of this group, those present continued imagining a unique interdisciplinary capstone classroom that could stretch across campus, bringing them and their students together to work on complex, real-world challenges. This conversation would eventually become C4: The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom. 

Such dreams require time and money, so the first step was applying for support from the York University Faculty Association’s Teaching and Learning Fellowship program and York’s Academic Innovation Fund, as well as directly from the Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning. They also require some sanity-checking, so an important step was reaching out to the founders of Guelph’s ICON (Ideas Congress) who generously shared their experiences creating an interdisciplinary, project-based classroom of their own. Finally, they require staff assistance, which was provided by the Lassonde School of Engineering, a Renaissance engineering centre that understands the central role interdisciplinarity plays in not only engineering training but also making the world a better place. 

With these important  supports in place, during the summer of 2019, a small group within the York Capstone Network began fleshing out C4’s pilot test design–Natasha May (Science/ Teaching Commons), Carolyn Steele (Liberal Arts/Career Center), Alice Kim (Health), Kai Zhuang (Engineering), and Bridget Cauthery (Dance). Together with Danielle and Franz, they became the Leadership Team, which was further augmented by Dana Craig (Libraries) and Danielle Dobney (Health) as well as our amazing TA from Environmental Studies, Benjamin Bongolan, and two dedicated research assistants, Meagan Veneracion (Film) and Elaine Balidio (Kinesiology). 

Together this team was driven by a commitment to create an interdisciplinary space for research-design projects that connect teams of students with “real-world” challenges that deliver social impact, and to bring high impact capstone experiences to as many students as possible.

two students presenting their work, holding laptops
Two C4 students presenting their work to the class
two professors speaking to a group of students in a classroom
Danielle Robinson and Franz Newland speaking to a group of C4 students

The world is full of complex problems that can only be addressed sustainably, justly, equitably, and effectively by bringing together a broad range of perspectives.

— Carolyn Steele, C4 Team Member