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Every great idea starts with a Spark.


What is a Spark?

A JMU X-Labs Spark is designed to bring big ideas forward. More structured than a conversation but less so than a semester-long course, a Spark is an event that shapes itself around a central theme. The format and duration are flexible, adaptable, and customizable based on your needs. The goal is to create a community-wide opportunity to engage with emerging ideas from the wealth of expertise that lives on our campus. A Spark could be a single-day workshop, a weekly reading group, a ten-hour Hackathon, or any other event that explores one theme through creative approaches.


What does a Spark look like?

A Spark can be many things - new ideas are always welcome. But whether a multi-day event involving faculty members from across campus or a succinct single workshop, all successfully-funded Sparks will:

  • Represent a given theme
  • Benefit any and all kinds of learning or research
  • Make a lasting impact that furthers the theme on campus and beyond


How it works


Faculty and/or students with a faculty sponsor propose a Spark


Proposed Spark is assessed by relevant Dean’s offices


Select Sparks and their creators receive design consultation and financial support before hosting their event


Spark creators continue exploring the theme of their event as welcomed participants of the annual IgniteX event

2023 Sparks: Sustainability

 The theme for 2023: Sustainability

Fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the future.

Fall of 2023 will welcome our first-ever round of Sparks. The call for proposals will go live on February 20th, with eight total Sparks chosen by April. The design of all events will be collaborative. Our team will work with you from initial ideas to marketing efforts, every step along the way.

After completing your Spark, we’ll work to organize IgniteX. This campus-wide event will compile your event and others, showcasing workshops, pitches, speakers and more.


Application Checklist

Request for Sparks is Open
  • Faculty member(s) submits application
  • Idea relates to the given theme (2023: Sustainability)
  • Project involves collaboration with a department, person, program of study, etc. separate from the applicant's home college
  • Spark fills a void on campus and provides participants an opportunity to experience something new
  • Plan includes strategy for attracting a broad audience

If you have met all the criteria on the checklist, you are ready to apply. If you have any questions about Sparks or the application process, you can check out our Spark FAQs or email us at

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