Here at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY), our mission is to inspire and support students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to address real-world problems. Launched in 2017, CITY serves students from across Yale’s campus through programs, funding, and mentorship. We’re building a new kind of innovation center, one rooted in radical inclusivity: here, students from all backgrounds tackle issues like climate change and civic engagement, develop creative projects from documentary films to digital platforms, and launch high-growth ventures and movements.
Tsai CITY is a transformative addition to the Yale campus landscape, dedicated to advancing the university's goal of creating an interdisciplinary learning environment that cultivates innovators, leaders, creators, and entrepreneurs in all fields and for all sectors of society. We aim to draw existing university resources into closer partnership with each other, to complement curricular programs, and to provide new and effective avenues for students to develop the skills crucial to an innovative mindset: design thinking, problem-framing, creative synthesis, clear communication, and refined judgment.
CITY has four core commitments:
Inclusivity across all dimensions of diversity
Skills and Practices of effective action
Risk-taking and resilience
So what is CITY all about?
Our mandate is to help Yale students become innovators and entrepreneurs — and collaborators across disciplines — in any field that they enter. We aim to give Yale students many ways to learn and hone the skills of purposeful design and practical action. Our offerings provide an opportunity to engage with the innovation process from initial idea to iterative development to thriving organization. Our core commitments are to interdisciplinary collaboration, inclusion across every dimension of diversity, the conviction that we can turn rigorous thought and creativity into effective action, and the fostering of resilience.
IF YOUR MISSION IS TO HELP YALE STUDENTS WITH BOTH INNOVATIVE THINKING AND EFFECTIVE DOING, WHY IS YOUR NAME JUST THE CENTER FOR INNOVATIVE THINKING AT YALE?
CITY is way punchier than CITEDY, no?
AREN'T YOU WORRIED THAT "CITY" SOUNDS CONFUSINGLY LIKE AN URBAN STUDIES CENTER?
It's maybe a thing, but we're brand-new, and we’re working to build a recognizable brand around Tsai CITY. It'll seem natural in short order. Also, "the city" is a perfect metaphor for what Tsai CITY aims to be: cities are diverse, dense hubs of energy and collaborative collisions. Cities mix and blend people of every description, welcome immigrants and dissident thinkers, and spark new industries. We hope there will emerge some parallels in the role Tsai CITY plays at Yale.
YOU HAVE SO MANY PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES; I’M A LITTLE OVERWHELMED. WHERE SHOULD I START?
You’re right — we have a lot going on! If you are unsure where to start, or just want to hear more about what we do, come to a CITY membership orientation. Orientations are a fun and interactive way to explore what innovation means while meeting other students who are just as curious as you are!
If you have a more specific question, sign up for office hours with one of our team members, who will answer all and any questions, concerns, or queries.
I'M INTERESTED IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION, BUT DON'T NECESSARILY WANT TO START MY OWN VENTURE OR ORGANIZATION. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
We have something for you, too. We welcome students of all backgrounds and interests to participate in our programs, develop new skills, and lend existing skills to projects in development. If you're interested in learning how to think like an innovator but don’t want to start your own thing, check out programs that are focused on introducing participants to new fields, skills, and ideas. Our goal is to teach you how to think like an innovator, however you choose to apply it.
If you’re interested in a topic that you don’t see in our programs, or if you have other feedback on our current offerings, you can share your thoughts with us through our Feedback Form.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE YALE ENTREPRENEURIAL INSTITUTE? IS TSAI CITY JUST A REBRANDED VERSION OF YEI?
They are actually two separate entities. The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute did amazing work elevating entrepreneurship at Yale over the past decade. YEI's leadership remains with Yale's Office of Cooperative Research, focusing on advancing faculty-originated innovation and entrepreneurship. Powered by Joseph Tsai's gift in 2017, Yale launched the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale with a broader mission than YEI: to support student innovation and entrepreneurship in the form of not only for-profit startups, but also nonprofits, civic and community organizations, arts and cultural organizations, cooperatives, social justice movements, student clubs, faith-based organizations, and any other field of endeavor that interests and motivates them. Tsai CITY is itself a startup — we're building a new institution with a new, broader mission. Join us! Come help us design, experiment, test, operate, and evolve something excellent.
WHERE CAN I FIND A MORE COMPLETE LIST OF ALL THE RESOURCES AT YALE FOR STUDENT INNOVATORS AND ENTREPRENEURS?
Glad you asked! We've got a new site that might help: entrepreneurshipacrossyale.com. It's designed to help you navigate all the programs, prizes, workshops, classes, and organizations across the Yale ecosystem related to innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, and design.
So is the current location CITY's permanent home?
Our 254 Elm Street location is only a temporary space until our new home is built. Check out this video for a sneak peek of where the new building will be!
Have more questions? Get in touch, or just stop by.
We're easy to reach by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us, or just stop by!
Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale
254 Elm Street, 3rd Floor
New Haven, CT 06510
Our door is the one to the left of Tyco on Elm Street.
And don't forget to join the mailing list!