Inworks visioning document

Some Thoughts on the Future of the University

Summary: This white paper argues that universities need to become knowledge entrepreneurs, in the process embracing four ideas: design thinking, computational thinking, disruptive innovation and radical interdisciplinarity. I discuss these ideas in the context of higher education at a modern research university, and suggest how an “Innovator Works” might be created to foster these ideas from within the academy. The “Inworks” would draw together faculty and students from disciplines across campus who will work collaboratively to address problems of real significance to human society. In the process of engaging in this kind of human-centered problem solving, students will develop intellectual capacities that are needed to succeed in the 21st century.

The challenge we face is how to constructively incorporate new ways of thinking into our teaching, scholarship and practice. The problems confronting human society are incredibly complex, and they are legion. Interdisciplinary work has led to significant advances in new directions, and in many cases has resulted in the creation of entire new disciplines. In spite of these advances, many university faculty and administrators remain uncomfortable with interdisciplinary research and teaching. How can a university create an environment that facilitates and promotes far-reaching intellectual diversity?
— John K. Bennet