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How 'disruptive innovation' can lead to societal impact

“Disruptive innovation,” a term coined by Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen in 1995, describes the process by which a smaller company — usually with fewer resources — moves upmarket and challenges larger, well-established businesses in a sector. The theory of disruptive innovation has been enormously influential in business circles, particularly among Silicon Valley innovators. Unfortunately, according to Christensen himself , the theory has also been widely misunderstood, and the “disruptive” label has been applied too carelessly anytime a market newcomer shakes up well-established incumbents. Contrary to popular belief, disruptive innovations are not simply breakthrough technologies that make good products better; disruptive innovations make products and services more accessible and affordable, which makes them more broadly available. “When you think of disruptive innovation, people think about Silicon Valley, or Silicon Alley, or Silicon something,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter , New America CEO and Arizona State University Distinguished Professor of Practice, at a recent...

Meet the 2021 ASU Founders' Day honorees

The ASU Alumni Association Founders’ Day awards program honors the pioneering spirit of the institution’s founders and celebrates the innovations of alumni, faculty members and supporters of one of the nation’s fastest-growing knowledge enterprises. This year’s event will take place virtually at 5 p.m. MST/PST, Wednesday, March 24. There is no cost to attend the virtual celebration. Covering a wide range of areas, the awards acknowledge excellence in teaching, research, leadership, philanthropy and service. These honors include the Faculty Research Achievement Award, the Faculty Service Achievement Award, the Faculty Teaching Achievement Award, the Philanthropist of the Year Award and the Alumni Achievement Award. The 2021 awards program will honor an alumna who has disrupted the beverage industry; a professor whose knowledge and contributions have had a global impact on mental health and diversity research; an economics professor selected to advise on enhancing opportunities for Black students, staff and faculty at...

Transforming higher education to better serve communities

Rising college costs, skyrocketing student debt and increasingly out-of-touch curricula are leading more Americans to question the fairness and value of higher education. What needs to change in order to transform American higher education into a stronger force for equity and innovation? Zócalo Public Square, an Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise, recently brought together leaders in the higher education space to discuss the top issues facing American higher education and the sector’s legitimacy crisis. During a candid conversation with Jennifer Ruark, deputy managing editor at “The Chronicle of Higher Education , ” college and university leaders reflected on steps they think the sector should take to better serve as engines for social mobility. ASU President Michael Crow said that at the core of many of the sector’s problems is a lack of communication by higher education institutions with the broader communities that institutions serve. “We — the colleges and universities...

Learning through life

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2021 issue of ASU Thrive magazine. When Kyle Ballard finishes his shift as a U.S. Navy linguist at Fort Gordon in Georgia, he goes home to log on to political science courses to move closer to his dream career in global security. Meanwhile, Shauntel Redhouse, a 2017 graduate of Kirtland Central High School who hails from the Navajo Nation, spends time gaining experience with research methods that will help in her quest to become a dietitian. High schooler Drew Kolber takes calculus online with college students and classes at the Herberger Young Scholars Academy on ASU’s West campus. And soon-to-be retirees Randy and Sharon Fortenberry plan to settle at Mirabella at ASU on the Tempe campus. At first blush, you might not expect people with such varied life experiences to all be enrolled at the same university. Toward greater inclusion ASU...

Designing universities of the future

On Dec. 8, Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Convergence Lab CDMX hosted a binational discussion on how institutions of higher education have been addressing the many challenges presented by COVID-19. ASU President Michael Crow and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey President David Garza joined the virtual event to compare notes on the lessons of 2020 and explore how universities can continue adapting their design and innovating to create a better future for all. Mia Armstrong of the ASU Convergence Lab hosted the discussion. “In addition to the shared experience of confronting the challenge of 2020 as a higher education institution, these two presidents and their institutions have an extensive track record of cross-border collaboration, including a joint executive MBA through our business schools, high-impact research on water and sustainability, the modeling of North American energy futures through our Decision Theater network and rule of law programs...

First-gen Sun Devil and Victoria Foundation awardee dedicates her career to lifting up other students

When Sylvia Symonds sees the students affected by her extensive work on building access to higher education for low-income and first-generation students, she sees herself. “I’m not so different than so many of our students who are doing everything they can to achieve their higher education goals,” Symonds said. Symonds, who is the associate vice president for outreach for Access ASU , earned the 2020 Edith Sayre Auslander Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award from the Victoria Foundation. A virtual ceremony held Nov. 18 honored her alongside the other awardees, which included fellow Sun Devils and professors Jean M. Andino and Sarah Amira De La Garza . Symonds said she is deeply honored by the award because of the work it acknowledges and because of the foundation’s history. “The Victoria Foundation Awards has been a longtime favorite of mine, not only because it is an opportunity to...

ASU's Innovation Quarter kicks off

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020 . A corporate groundbreaker described how she innovated her way to the CEO suite as the kickoff keynote to Arizona State University’s new Innovation Week and Innovative Quarter initiative , five weeks of free virtual programming for students, staff, faculty and the community. Shellye Archambeau spoke Dec. 7 in a session based on her book, “Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers and Create Success On Your Own Terms.” During her 15-year career at IBM, she was the first Black woman the company sent abroad, and she later became a top executive at Blockbuster and CEO of MetricStream. In an exchange with Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs, Archambeau shared some pithy advice on how she made her way to the top — and learned to take care of herself...

Decades of progress for Latino scholars at ASU

They’re future diplomats, entrepreneurs and community advocates. But they’re also effecting change in the present day. Currently 110 Sun Devils make up the cohort of Latino Partnership Scholars, a collaboration between Arizona State University and partner organizations that was founded in 1984 to support underrepresented students and make a collective impact for access to education in the Latino community. Originally launched as the Hispanic Community Partnership Program, the initiative established an endowment thanks to an investment from Freeport-McMoRan to the Una Promesa Para el Futuro Campaign. In 2007, the program became known as the Latino Partnership Scholars, with current partners including Chicanos Por La Causa , the ASU Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association , Hispanic Business Alumni , Los Diablos Alumni and the Si Se Puede Foundation . Together, the scholarships have supported students earning 605 degrees from 2011–19 alone, to the tune of $6.5 million total. The awards support...

Michael Crow honors recipients of 2020 President’s Awards and SUN Awards

Arizona State University President Michael Crow honored members of the ASU community during the 2020 President’s Recognition Ceremony, which was held virtually on Oct. 7. The annual event recognizes individuals in the community and ASU who work tirelessly to promote the university’s shared values of excellence in innovation, sustainability and social embeddedness. The ceremony also honors the top Serving University Needs (SUN) Award recipients. The peer recognition award is given to ASU employees who have demonstrated individual excellence. “Congratulations for helping to make ASU who we are; helping us to be unbelievably innovative; helping us to adapt and adjust,” Crow said in his opening remarks. “It’s exciting to be able to recognize people for the work that they are doing to make our institution more successful.” Here are the recipients of this year’s SUN Award, President’s Awards in the categories of sustainability and innovation, and the President’s Medal for Social...

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