Blog / Fellows Forum with Dr. Gary Grossman, Associate Director of the New School for the Future of Innovation and Society

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On Thursday, August 6th, 2015, the UI team had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Gary Grossman as part of the monthly Fellows’ Forum series. Dr. Grossman holds myriad positions at ASU including serving as the Faculty Chair of the Global Technology and Development program, as former President of the Arizona State University Senate and Chair of the University Academic Council. He is also a Professor in both the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and School of Letters and Sciences. Most recently, Grossman was appointed as the new Associate Director of the School for the Future of Innovation and Society.

We started off the session by sharing photos and stories that illustrated our passions and how those passions contribute to the work we do at ASU. Dr. Grossman shared his appreciation for placing importance on what drives us as individuals, mentioning that sometimes in academia people get too focused on how many publications they need to advance in their careers rather than on what they do. Dr. Grossman’s advice was to have a burning question in life and to seek out opportunities that help you answer that burning question. We particularly enjoyed this sentiment because it reinforces the fact that we should make decisions in life always keeping in mind the greater impact we want to make on the world.

Dr. Grossman’s energy and humor was contagious. In fact, he was so engaging that our conversation went all over the board from talking about the historical trends in innovation to his meaningful work in promoting the New American University. Here are some of the highlights:

The problem with the solutions-oriented model: Dr. Grossman mentioned that higher education has emphasized the need for a solutions-oriented mindset. Students should be equipped with the skills to solve real world problems. However, Dr. Grossman highlighted the importance of understanding the ripple effect in that one solution can create a whole new set of problems. In order to prepare students for the real world, we have to teach students how to effectively navigate a changing landscape of questions and problems. They have to ask themselves which problems rather than which solutions.

Let’s bring the New American University model to other parts of the world: Dr. Grossman explained his past work with the Technical University of Ambato in Ecuador and their efforts to become “The New Ecuadorian University.” He expressed his enthusiasm for promoting the New American University as a model that can not only be replicated in the States but in different countries around the world. We can share a commitment to excellence, access and impact while taking into consideration the unique external/internal conditions in each place where the model will take root.

What is Innovation? Given Dr. Grossman’s role at the New College of the Future of Innovation and Society, we were curious to see how he defined innovation. Dr. Grossman replied by saying that innovation is simply something old that is transformed and adapted in a way to create something new. He gave the example of how the internet was in existence for 25 years before anyone had a use for it. It took innovative thinking to reimagine how the internet could benefit society. Innovation, in this light, is and will continue to be a core mechanism for progress.

Importance of interdisciplinary engagement: Throughout our conversation, Dr. Grossman emphasized the enormous impact President Crow has made on Arizona State University. Particularly, Dr. Grossman shared a little about the history of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and the Global Technology Development. He explained the vital role that interdisciplinary practices play in the advancement of the fields of science, technology and policy.

The UI team would like to thank Dr. Grossman for sharing his experiences, engaging us in a wonderful discussion and helping us learn to a greater degree the positive impact our institution can make on the world.

Blog / Fellows Forum With Dr Gary Grossman