By Damian Alessandro
Innovation. If you read the popular press, you’ll see that this word is constantly thrown around in professional settings. But what does it mean?
For some, innovation is all about progression and disruption. One of the defining ideologies of our time, innovation makes room for both flashes of inventiveness (when the impossible becomes doable) and more incremental change, such that subtle improvements in a product or process that makes things better. In either case, innovation raises the bar for how we live, think, and connect, and it has become an expectation and goal within business, government, university life, sports teams, entertainment, the performing arts, and most walks of life.
All this sounds pretty good, but how do people or teams innovate? And what are the consequences of innovation?
My name is Damian Alessandro, and I am majoring in History at Pacific Lutheran University. I am in my Junior year and I have been enjoying my experiences here on-campus, which include being a Resident Assistant in Pflueger Hall. The subject of History has been a great passion of mine since I was young, so it has been fun to study it at PLU in greater depth. This path has led me to a greater appreciation for inventors and innovators throughout history, and the benefits (and shortcomings) that innovative products and ideas have brought. For these reasons, I’ve taken the plunge into the new Innovation Studies minor.
Innovation Studies is a new interdisciplinary program at PLU that focuses on innovation (surprise!) and entrepreneurial thinking. The goal of this minor is to encourage creative thinking and adding value to companies and virtually any endeavor. The program hopes to nurture and push students to come up with big ideas that will transform the world–or at least our corner of it. The hope is that students gain actual skills that employers are looking for, opening up new opportunities after graduation, and connecting your major to real life.
Innovation Studies also promises to be fun–not a lot of boring lectures, but team-based projects that bring out the best of your major and developing skill set.
The minor is a pretty visionary, too, providing a space for students to make unexpected, yet meaningful connections to the greater professional/academic world. Naturally, majors such as Business, Art, Economics, History, and Communications are some of the core populations that will benefit from the major, and courses in those programs form the backbone of the minor. But I would encourage anyone to look at the list of courses available to meet program requirements if you have not already done so, just to see the diverse array of courses and faculty involved (over 20 PLU professors).
I started in Innovation Studies as it was emerging as a new program, and I enjoyed taking my first classes in areas that also satisfied Gen Ed requirements, like Economics 101 and History of Technology. I love that the minor is only 20 credits, and also flexible and interdisciplinary.
I truly believe that this minor gives students skills and connections that anyone could benefit from and I am excited to be part of it. I will be writing this blog to share my excitement and discoveries with you, covering “innovative” topics that are current at PLU and in the world today.