intro: do you dream of a classroom where learningis natural? can we inspire students to lifelong learning? what exactly is the purpose of aneducation? inspiring students to be curious, independent, creative, innovative, deep-thinking,confident, pro-active, collaborative, determined, educated. rise to the challenge of changingthe world. this is teaching, this is learning, this is who we are. welcome to the table topinventing podcast. steve: how does a small town girl become anassociate dean in a college of engineering? and how necessary is a phd to having an importantposition in a university? and finally, what is thinkbox and why should we care about it?join us as we consider the idea space within the universities on today's podcast.
lisa: and when i stepped on that college campus,i was blown away. my life was changed because up until that time information was very limited.there's no internet and i had 2 tv stations. i'm a little older than i look and i justdidn't know what the world meant. i didn't travel. i don't know if i'd ever been outsideof ohio until that time. well i still wasnâ€™t outside of ohio at that time but i had nevertravel outside of ohio. and so when i got into this campus i was around professors andi was around libraries and i was around books. and my mind was just blown in terms of whatwas out there and the people that i was meeting. and it was at that time where iâ€™m like...i love learning. you know this kind of the passion for learning was ignited.
steve: this is the podcast where we talk innovation.on today's podcast we're speaking with an innovative associate dean who thinks regularlyabout the free exchange of ideas within the university which reminds me of a great quoteby alfred griswold in his essays on education. he said, â€œbooks won't stay banned. theywon't burn. ideas won't go to jail. in the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitorhave always lost. the only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. the source of betterideas is wisdom. and the surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.â€ i had the great honor to go to college aswell as graduate school. and i'm quite certain bad ideas can only be banished by better ideas.this concept was born in the heart of a university.
alfred griswold was the 16th president ofyale university and had quite a bit to say about the concept in higher education thatwe call academic freedom. the concept of academic freedom and i became great friends while iwas in graduate school. and i believe with all my heart there should always be a respectedplace in our society where all ideas are accepted in with open arms, shaking around until theyget dizzy. and then the ones that can stand up on their own get to stay until better ideascome along. here in america and the west, the university has always been that place.many new ideas are being ran through the testing grounds of universities these days includingmakerspaces, the hottest technologies, and every other imaginable idea. here at tabletop inventing, we're particularly excited
about inventing, making, and using a fullbody experience to discover deeper learning. however, this week we want to give a shoutout to all those amazing professors and educators who have helped shape who we are and whatwe do. if you're curious about what we do, visit inventingzone.com to find out more. steve: our guest today is lisa camp. lisais the associate dean for strategic initiatives in the engineering school at case westernreserve university. i have a soft spot for case because it's my alma mater for graduateschool. and lisa shares some of the cool things that are happening at case and other universitiesaround the country particularly around makerspaces and the free exchange of ideas. without furtherdelay, let's find out more about lisa.
steve: so my guest today is lisa camp fromcase western reserve university. lisa started out as a small-town girl in senecaville, ohioand has recently become the associate dean for strategic initiatives in engineering atcase western reserve university. now that's a pretty big journey and she has also writtena book "the end of academic freedom". so lisa, tell us a little more about this journey. lisa: sure! so yeah, i started out in smalltown as you mentioned and my parents were very keen on encouraging education. neitherone of them went to college. and they said that there's one thing you would do is yougo to school. and so i did and my first step on college campus was at baldwin wallace college,it's now called baldwin wallace university
in berea, ohio which is a little small townoutside of... a suburb outside of cleveland. and when i stepped on that college campus,i was blown away. my life was changed because travel. i don't know if i'd ever been outsideof ohio until that time. well i still hadnâ€™t been outside of ohio at that time but i hadnever travel outside of ohio. and so when i got into this campus, i was around professorsand i was around libraries and i was around books. and my mind was just blown in termsof what was out there and the people that i was meeting. and it was at that time whereiâ€™m like.... i love learning. you know this kind of passion for learning was ignited. i started as a communications major and idabbled a little bit in the sciences and then
i thought math might be it. and i actuallyended up in english as an english literature major because it was really hard for me tosit and read and decipher novels and intent and character development. all these thingswere very foreign and it was something that really challenged me so i stayed in english.but throughout my 4 years at baldwin wallace, i was lucky enough to come across some incredibleadministrators there who really pushed me in terms ofâ€¦you know i babbled about how much i love higher ed and how much i love learning there andthey kept pushing away. â€œwhy do you like it? what is it about this environment thatyou think is a great thing?â€ throughout the conversations i had, i was having it witha... was it an associate dean or no not an
associate dean, an academic dean. he had acolleague with him during this conversation who happened to work at an organization inwashington, dc that was called the association of college in university offices and thatorganization of which baldwin wallace was a member. it was a group that helped facultytake ideas and really think about how you might support them from a federal perspectiveas well as from you know that kind of funny perspectives. and so i was talking with my mentor at thattime and this fellow from washington about why higher ed's are important and you knowhow... you know all this great ideas happen here... you know how... you know there's somuch research that can be happening and new
thoughts that develop and they pushed me.they said "you know how these ideas get supported? how those ideas come to light and what thatactually means?" i said "i have no idea." people sit around and think and they sit intheir research labs and do really cool things. they said "well there's actually a whole infrastructurearound higher education, why don't you come learn about it?" and so through luck and fortune,i was offered a position in an organization down in washington where we work with collegesand universities across the country with faculty. to sit down with them and say "what big ideasdo you have? what new knowledge do you want to create? what new changes do you want tomake in the higher education realm?" and we would learn about that and then we would tryto connect into funding opportunities at the
federal and the private levels. so that'swhere i first learned about how ideas come to light from a kind of a formal perspectivein terms of how do you fund things. you know it was my first "aha" moment that researchcost money. faculty members who sit in labs, they have to pay for the equipment somehowand they have to pay for people's time to do the work. and people who are writing booksactually need to buy their time to write books and to do the research in the background.so this whole other side of academe starts to open up to me in terms of how do ideascome to light. i would say that that experience in washingtonwas an incredible one because it was a small company. but around that table were formerdeans, former presidents that worked there.
and our lunchtime discussions, no one wouldgo out to lunch. we'd all go to the conference room and we would talk about current events.we would talk about socrates, we would talk about these incredible minds, and they wereteaching me. you know, teaching me how to continue to discourse outside of a classroomand also teaching me how universities work and how universities function and why itâ€™sso important to treasure the life of the mind into build and support institutions that cantreasure the life of the mind. from there my journey continued back to ohioactually. i took a position at cleveland state university and worked in the research officesof cleveland state where i got to work again with faculty on taking ideas and trying tohelp them massage those ideas for external
funding and external pursuits. i was at clevelandstate for a while. i had my first child and you know the balance that starts to come withsomebody who is working and trying to have a family, we all tried to figure that out.so i was fortunate enough where i went to my boss at cleveland state after my firstchild was born and said "every bit of my parental plans are falling apart, i'm going to haveto quit." i don't know what to do with my kid. (laughs) and he said, "why don't youstart consulting for us lisa. you know enough about how washington works. you have enoughvalue to bring to the faculty. let's figure out how to make you still part of our worldbut do it through a consultative road." so from that point i developed a company calledcamp and associates. i worked for it with
some mentors to develop what this companycould look like and i ended up really providing advice and support to faculty who are goingafter federal grads very specifically, how to write the idea, how to share the idea. and at that time, this was in the late '90sor late 2000s, this concept of doing more beyond the individual faculty member builtinto like partners. you know, what do you do in terms of translating your research?how do you work with the local school district to make sure your educational methodologiesthat you're researching gets into the classroom? and so i started to do a lot not only withjust grant writing but also in terms of how do we kind of bring these different typesof people together. the academics with the
corporate folks, with the school folks totalk about you know, what does it really mean to take your ideas and translate them intoa different environment, how to work with partners. so i did that for about 7-8 yearsthen cleveland state came back to me and said, "hey, we want you to come back full time.you are very skilled at listening to what our faculty members are interested in. youseem to understand really what we're about and how to support them. we want you to comeback and work on some bigger projects for us." so i was recruited to come back to clevelandstate and i worked in the research office and then quickly moved up to the president'soffice. i don't know if there's a "move up".
i mean for those of you who know higher educationsometimes that's a move down when you have to go into a higher office in a universitybecause you get further away from the faculty which are the driving force you know for somany ways at a university. but in this positions like i learned more about how do you bringin politics internally as well as externally to bring ideas to light. and i really hadthat moment of kind of actually a little bit dismay where i'm like... you know what thereare some ideas that are incredible that can't get through the political ruckus to come tolight. you know they don't have the right players in their court or they don't havethe right people in the room or they don't know how to take it to the right externalpeople. so i continue to do a lot of work
on big faculty projects with big partnershipsto help manage the political tensions and to manage the... you know, how do you actuallybring support not just financially but from i guess not emotional but institutional supportfor ideas. how do you bring the right things to light? and during that time i did a lot of work witheverybody from historians to engineers. i became very interested in what was going onin the engineering world particularly up here in cleveland. they were growing clusters ofstrength in the areas of electronics and sensors and controls and i got very engaged in learninghow that worked and i was very excited to learn how that worked. and i think one ofthe key features of all my career up to that
point and as i continue i said, "i've gotto be around faculty learning new things all the time." and so that was my first introinto kind of like the engineering setup world and loved it. and being across, i met facultymembers from case western reserve at that time and the former dean of case western'sengineering school at that time as well. and he said, "hey lisa, why don't you come tothe western case a little bit. you know there's some interesting things that you might beable to do on this kind of bigger scale projects to help you know kind of bring the folks togetherand infiltrate this crazy federal government and how it's changing so much. you know it'sgoing away from funny individual faculty to more group projects." and i'm like, "no. no,no. i'm having way too much fun at cleveland
state. we're doing some great project that'svery community focus, very engaging with the faculty." and at that time i also startedto work with the president at cleveland state and another faculty member on the book thatwe wrote on, the â€˜end of academic freedomâ€™. because as i had experienced throughout mycareer and you know as we talked about michael and bill and i, there's a big concern overmaking sure that these institutions really value the ideas and support the ideas thatare coming out of them because there are no other institutions in this country where youhave at the foundation, idea developed that knowledge generation for the sake of ideadevelopment in the knowledge generation because you'll never know where it's going to go,right? you never know when this idea's going
to become the next internet or maybe an ideathat sits in the closet for a while and that's okay because another idea builds upon that.and so bill and michael had written a book and i came into the mix and with differentideas about you know how do you really take these ideas and how do you support them, theadministration of structures that should be set up to support those faculty. and so thisbook was born, the â€˜end of academic freedomâ€™ book and it was published. it was a quitefun to write it and it was quite challenging to write it, to figure out the right audiencesthat we were trying to get the message across, so that was out there. and so fast forward,i eventually did agree to come to the case western and working in the school of engineering.i was concerned when i first came because
i was afraid working just with engineers.and i used to say that it was a bit of a chuckle would be boring for me because someone froma liberal arts background, you know i loved talking to the historian one day and talkingto the engineering the next day so i was a little concerned about that. but part of mycharge when i came into engineering not only to break down some of the disciplinary boundariesthat existed within the engineering but to really also break down the boundaries thatexisted across case western university so that maybe we do have engineer working withthe historian in these bigger projects to really make a difference, to understand thefull system of the knowledge that was being developed.
and so i've been to case western since 2009.i have thoroughly enjoyed my work here. i think that this concept of bringing ideastogether and different minds together and figuring out what the right system thatâ€™sin place to support this is a critical important thing for universities. i should say too wheni came to case, you know i do not have a phd. that's very odd to be working in a universitywithout a phd. and so i was first at least able to get go my masters at todayâ€™s bestterms. so i did join a masterâ€™s program here at case western in the school of managementand it was around organizational behavior and development which goes hand in hand franklywith what i'm doing here in terms of culture change. getting teams to work together differently,having teams understand one another. so it
was a perfect piece of education that wasmore formal because there my education is not ending from the time i stepped on thatcollege campus when i was an undergraduate to now. it's never ending because i've beenin a very rich environment of learning but for a formal perspective i took this masterâ€™sprogram and it was quite exciting into the point where i'm going to probably continueon with the phd in that field because there's a lot of interesting topics that are emergingaround, the support of ideas and diversity of ideas within in an institution. and whatare the right organizational structures, what are the right organizational behaviors thatyou want to support within this kind of changing world of higher education because it is changingquite a bit.
so that's a very, very long winded start ofmy journey steve. i hope that's not too long winded but i would be happy to answer thenext question about it. steve: so we've talked a little bit aboutyour college experience. if you think back a little further than that, what was yourexperience with education earlier than that in high school and maybe even all the wayback to grade school? lisa: so i was an a+ student from grade schoolinto high school. i like learning but it wasn't a cool thing to be smart. so i remember beingvery guarded about knowing stuff and answering questions too much. you know i remember beingproud of knowing things but i also remember being a little embarrassed by knowing things.and so you know i grew up in a pretty small
town, a very small school where athleticswas the driving force in many ways and it just wasn't kind of been a stellar student,was not necessarily what was expected. however, i did have those teachers who were able tokind of push against the culture and kind of protect some of those of us who reallyliked to being smart and thought it was great being smart and would push you in a differentdirection. and so while my parents are always saying "you need to go to college." i wantedto go to college. i couldn't wait to go to college to be around other thinkers and otherlearners where it was great to read books together and to talk about books. i thinki've always was a little inquisitive but i always said to be a little guarded when iwas in that kind of grade school and high
school. and college opened up those doorsfor me to kind of really be who i wanted to be and to really learn new ideas. steve: so you had some teachers along theway who encouraged you even in an environment that wasn't particularly conducive? lisa: absolutely! so i have these great teacherswho... i can remember one in particular. he was my english teacher who also was our theaterdirector. and my senior year i was starting to get a little "oh, i don't need to learnall these stuff anymore." i love it but you know i know it all and so he challenged me.he gave me a couple readings where it really challenge to what i was trying to do. andhe gave me a bad grade on one of my test around
this book because he gave me some separatethings and i don't like it. (both laughs) i didn't like it at all and he's just like,"lisaâ€¦â€ he goes â€œdon't get too big for your britches." he was like, "you're smartand you kind of know you're smart but there's a lot to be learning." and it was a b. i meanit wasn't that bad, i actually had a bigger struggle when i went to college and got areally bad grade. but many of us have had teachers who have seen the potential, whowas able to kind of you know poke at that potential when it was needed and man doesthat make a difference for you know, for students. he was one in particular, mr. mcglofflin.i mean he's a name i won't forget because he did try to push me a little bit.and then there was another name, i had a math
teacher. you know i did really well in mathand that was the particular class i was embarrassed by that. but he would always kind of keepthrowing little things ever my way, "do these extra problems. do this extraâ€¦ you know...this little extra bit of work." and kind of give aâ€¦ you know... "atta girl, that's good,keep it up!" so that encouraged me. it was really important and those two teachers encouragedme in 2 different ways but i remember them, you know they kind of kept me going. steve: so that actually sounds a little bitfamiliar. i went all the way through high school and even college with really greatgrades and it wasn't until i came to case western actually. (laughs) i had a particularphysics teacher that he really challenged
us and i remember sitting in his office youknow, after the first test wondering if i should continue going to graduate school.and he told me the most awesome thing i've ever heard from a professor. he said, "youknow steve..." he said, "i tend to forget what happens at the beginning of the semesterif students improve significantly as they continue on." and i mean i've never workedthat hard in any class before or since and i got an a in that class but i had to reallywork for it. (laughs) lisa: i love it. you remember that, don'tyou? i love that! steve: oh yes!lisa: it means something. steve: it does. and we don't think often aboutthose people who you know encouraged us along
the way educationally. but when we stoppedto think about them we realized that there really is you know this really deep channelin our brain because of something that someone did somewhere along the way. so that's a greatstory. let's turn a little bit more toward what you're doing now. we got connected becausea mutual friend of ours suggested that i speak to you a little bit about the innovation summitthat you guys have been working on. so tell us a little bit about that. what is the innovationsummit there at case western? lisa: sure! this is the first annual summit,the first ever summit that's trying to highlight innovations and ideas that are coming outof... not only coming out of case across the institution. but it's really also about bringingthought leaders from across the country together
to talk about innovation. it's very much...that term is a bit of buzz word these days. everyone's talking about it so we decidedthat it might make sense to pull together some folks to talk about what innovation meansin terms of comparing and contrasting ideas. so what is innovation mean in a differentgeographic region across the country? you know if you're in silicon valley there's aflavor of innovation. midwest may have a flavor of innovation. but what does it look like?different sectors, you know, what is it being innovative mean within the you know, it sectorversus being innovative in the healthcare sector. or what does it mean when you're beinginnovative in your neighborhoods and in your social groups.and so we're bringing together 71 different
speakers both you know folks that are localto cleveland but the vast majority from outside of the region. they're descending onto campusoctober 26, 27, and 28. we're going to investigate different models of innovation from the sectorsto the different geographies. and we're going to be looking at what are the similaritiesacross these different levels and what are the differences and what might we deduce fromsome of that. i will say that kind of the genesis of this idea to have this summit andto do this investigation of innovation really came from the fact that we're getting readyto open a new effort here on campus. not a new effort but a new building on campus that'scalled thinkbox in the richey mixon building. for about 5 6 7 8 years ago and a group offaculty had ideas to you know, how can we
put together to create an environment withphysical and cultural where disciplines meet and work together on new ideas where peoplefrom the community meet with our faculty and with our students to talk about new ideas.and in 2012 we opened up an interim space that we call thinkbox where people can comeand in and go onto that space and prototype. and it's really this maker movement that peoplehave been hearing about where you can use these digital manufacturing tools to bringyour ideas to life. but it's more than that. it's also about you know how do you ideate,how do you bring different thought people together to come up with the solution to aproblem. and then in some cases some people may want to take that solution to a probleminto the marketplace so what's the right pathway
to take your ideas into the marketplace andwhat's the right networks that you need to tap into and what support do you need.and so as thinkbox has grown, it's been a huge fundraising effort here at the universityunder the direction of president snyder. and we're moving into a 50 thousand square footbuilding and the first phase of that building will be opening on october 1st and the summitis at the end of october. and so we thought, "let's have this summit where we're talkingabout innovation and looking at different models. let's have it coincide when we openup this new building where we're moving thinkbox and where thinkbox embodies innovation." that'sreally what it's about and innovation in our world is when you provide these incrediblesolutions, diverse solutions to problems and
the solutions may be solutions that cost nothing.they are mental solutions or they could be solutions that become a product someday. andso that's... everyone's descending in to cleveland this last week of october. we expect to havea very engaging set of discussions as well as a big party over at thinkbox celebratingall things innovation. steve: so as i was hoping you would bringthinkbox up because i have seen quite a few things about it and iâ€™m actually a littlebit jealous because i think i would have greatly enjoyed that. so tell me a little bit aboutthe students and the faculty who show up at thinkbox and how you guys have structuredthat environment. lisa: sure! so i would say, it's really student-drivenin many ways. we faculty use it as well but
it's more students that are using it at thestage and how we've opened or how we've developed it is that it's open. i mean the word opennessmeans very much at the base of the philosophy of thinkbox. so any student from any departmentand any school in college can walk in those doors and start ideating, creating, usingthe machines, using the equipment any time they want when it's open. i think right nowwe are open 60 hours a week in the old space and theyâ€™ll be open more hours in the biggerspace. but it's not assigned to a class, i mean classes can use the facility to do thingslike senior projects or you know entrepreneurial classes if they want to do things over there.but it's not tied directly to one department, it's not tied... well engineering is hostingit just because we have to have somebody own
it at this institution to kind of get thingsmoving. it is cross university. and so you'll see students in there from all kinds of differentdisciplines but you also see people in the space from the community. we have a lot ofpeople from the cleveland institute of art, a lot of students there that come in wantingto make things. and it's really fun to see at least you know some of my experiences,the engineers working next to the artist to develop these really cool projects. you knowthe engineers find the functionality of a project, the art students are saying "yeah,but no one's going to use if when it's like that. let's think about how you would designit." and so you just see it's a place where structure is there for safety, right, there'smachinery. but there's also spaces where there
are no machines where there's like you knowpopsicle sticks and cotton balls and white boards. and people can just ideate and crashup into one another and think about new ideas. so openness is the best word that we can useto describe what thinkbox] is about because you know in many campuses across the countrythese types of spaces although they are starting to change because there's a movement afoot.many of these types of spaces are limited to certain disciplines, certain departments,certain types of students. ours is open to all students and in addition some of thisis unique to thinkbox here at case besides open to the community. and when i say communitywe mean the external community to case western's... to the campus. so the garage tinkerer, theartist, the philosopher, anyone who would
want to come in and use the space, it is openfor them to use it. we haven't widely publicized that because we are at a smaller footprintbut now that we moved to the bigger building it'll be easier for the community membersto use this because you know it's kind of cool when you have say an experienced welderperhaps who wants to come in and work next to one of our student artists to come up withsome different ideas. and the learning, that happens back and forth across these boundariesis really quite interesting. so openness is the best way for us to kind of get talk aboutwhat thinkbox is truly about. and that's not a physical thing but we're really workingon that as a cultural motif as well. steve: well i think it's amazing that thestudents from the cleveland institute of art
have actually been coming over. was thereany significant bridge between the institute and case western prior to this? lisa: so we have had relationships with themon individual class basis like for example there's our gaming. faculty members have hada number of classes with the students at the institute of art. and i believe that thereâ€™ssome folks in our school of business, they have some relationship with the instituteof art in some of the design programs so there's been a bunch of went off relationships. andso what's happened with this thinkbox and again it's really been student-driven. youknow it's been the students from across the different areas wanting to work together.and one way we did try to help institutionalize
a little bit is that the way we operate thinkboxis that we use students as student. we call them tas, teaching assistance, but they'rereally not teaching assistance in the official word. they're there to help and support anybodywho comes in. we purposely reached out to the institute of art to see if any of theirstudents wanted to take on this teaching assistant roles in terms of you know working withinthinkbox and many of them have. so that's helped us really kind of formalizesome of those relationships between at the student level by giving them opportunitiesto come and work in thinkbox and bring other people along. so it's really extra-curricularat the moment and you know there are those courses that are happening in you know, onthe one offs with each individual faculty.
but this is one of the more formal kind ofengagements that where we have tried to shed up structures between the 2 institutions.and even when we opened thinkbox over at the richey mixon building we've got a whole seriesof discussions of you know, "let's give those ids, make sure we have the right ids for thestudents to be able to get in to thinkbox from the institute of art." and actually theinstitute of music so they can go over and use that. use the facilities with ease. withouthaving to you know, drive a car over and park and go out in back doors and things of thatnature. so we're trying to make it as easy as possible for our area institutions to getinvolved in thinkbox. steve: i love it! so you mentioned that thinkboxis arranged around the word open or openness
and that reminded me that you have a bookthat probably discusses that a little bit. can you tell us a little bit about what theacademic freedom book was about that you guys wrote, the â€˜end of academic freedomâ€™? lisa: yeah, sure! so there has been this concernabout you know the way ideas proliferate and the way ideas are supported. and there aresome enemies that we think are kind of against what's happening at universities in termsof supporting this openness and these true exchange of ideas. and yeah, the enemies...authority, let's stick with that word (both laughs), government bureaucracy, some corporatism,supernaturalism, and of course the last one is illiberalism as the fifth one. and thereare these ways of thinking that are kind of
holding back ideas, right, in terms of youknow... i'll pick on corporatism because that's the easiest one for me to pick on at the momentis that you know so what happens when a corporate entity supports a research project, right?and what happens to the way that relationship ends up managing the early stages of research?so while there's a role for corporate engagement of course at the research university workingwith faculty on translating ideas. there's also a slippery slope that happens in termsof engagement of corporate interests when you start working on free ideas and lettingideas go where they need to go, right. as supposed to where ideas go based on the fundingtrends or the funding. i mean what you can say and what you can't say and what's thatright balance right between corporate involvement
and no corporate involvement.so there's a little bit of concern that we have been seeing and you know my co-authormichael schwartz, he's the one that came up with the actual... he named the 5 enemies.he was president also at a previous university. so he has seen this kind of over his 50 someyears of university life, he has seen this kind of clamping down on letting ideas battleone another, right, in the very open environment. the other co-author, bill bowman, he's theone that brought this concept together, of the survival of the fit in terms of ideas.that the more ideas that you have in an environment that can battle one another and kind of youknow figure out which ones is strongest one, the best ideas emerge from that. and so whenthese enemies start to come afoot, whether
its bureaucracy or whatever it might be tokind of hold these ideas backward to say, "you know you're idea's just not strong yet."without any peer review or just because someone doesn't like it, right? that hurts kind ofwhere knowledge is created, where ideas can kind of bounce up against another and thebest ideas come out to play because the more ideas you have that can bounce up againstone another, the better set of ideas are going to come out of that.so the openness is very important for us and a lot of the public view tenure as a dirtyword in many ways. but you know tenure and the sense of having academic freedom to exploreany kind of idea that seems to be the right idea at the time, if we don't have peopleprotected to go and just go after those ideas
where they might take them, where it mightbe an idea that doesn't necessarily have a funding pathway that maybe nobody... everyonethinks it's a crazy idea, but that crazy idea may be the next solution to cancer, right,to solve the cancer problem. and so you've got to have this environment set up whereyou allow the ideas to proliferate and you allow those ideas that may not make any sense,may not have any... you know who knows where the market potential is, right? you've gotto let them happen and it's okay if some of them are bad because those bad ideas may haveopened the doors to other ones. so i will say that's part of my underlyingphilosophy to in terms of we're just working at a university and you know i get a littlebit nervous these days. there's such a magnifying
glass in terms of "what's the value of aneducation?" and "what's the value of colleges?" and "boy it really cost a lot." and "oh boy,no oneâ€™s going to need enough in hereâ€™", "whatâ€™s the job equation?" and you knowit's a very gentle conversation you have to have because yes of course one side you don'twant students incurring incredible amounts of debt and not having jobs and being preparedfor jobs you know after incurring that debt. but on the other side of the equation, youknow higher education is more than just about a job, right? it's about a way of thinking.it's about a way of living your life. it's about a way of contributing to society's problems.and so you've got to make sure there's this balance that happens between letting thesekind of ideas proliferate and letting new
knowledge be created and letting studentsbe part of that environment of new ideas while also you know making sure they've got theright experiences so that they can pay their rent when they graduate.so there's a very gentle dance that i think is going on right now that is a bit concerningto me and you know with the book we have to be careful of what we call these enemies andhow far they swing to you know, one way or the other in terms of the impact on idea developmentand their impact on idea growth and knowledge creation and really helping the institutionsthat can support kind of the great minds of the next generation. steve: i was at a research lab in the navyhere in california doing research and on multiple
occasions had to go looking for qualifiedresearchers to work with us. the pool was so small for qualified you know citizens ofthe us that we had very hard time finding appropriate researchers to come work withus. i ended up there actually in somewhat of an accident and i couldn't bring myselfto go work in a metropolitan area. i don't want to live in downtown la and so i endedup out in a desert you know, in this work place almost by accident because it was aplace where i could do high-tech research and live far from the metropolitan area. iloved it but not everyone was excited by that or attracted by that. it was just very difficultto find those people. lisa: yeah.steve: and as i got looking further into it,
i started to notice disturbing patterns ink12 and the pipeline heading to the university and you know students get to the end of highschool and they jumped in to college. and when science gets harder, math gets harder,engineering gets hard, "well let's just go take a business major or an english majoror a... you know, liberal studies major, anything other than what's hard.â€ and you know, there'sno shortcut in some of these disciplines. you have to go to the hard stuff before youhit the fun stuff and there's plenty of fun stuff there. i mean there's so much fun stuff.lisa: yeah. steve: i had a friend that used to say thatphysicists have all of the fun toys. well you know, i mean we just have the cooleststuff in the lab. we just had a lot of fun
but many students would never find their waythere simply because somewhere earlier on they had taken a fork in the road and therewas no easy way to get from where they were to where that is. lisa: so while the summit isn't speaking tothat specifically i mean thinkbox is thinking about that. and you know when we've been partof the national conversation where they see making, manufacturing, k12, you know all thatstem education, you know this is all kind of blending together, right, in terms of...then these makerspaces do provide an opportunity to kind of hook people in a different wayand have them think about math and science in a different way. but you're actually bringingup a different type of a point. okay, even
if you come in to the makerspaces and it'skind of fun, you can eventually have to go hard. it's going to have to get hard. you'regoing to have struggle with those equations. you're going to have struggle with some thingsthat are difficult. and so we've actually been having a conversation about this conceptof grit and the concept of perseverance. i'm teaching a sages class this semester. theseare a+ kids in this class, right, and we're talking about how... you know we're goingto get comfortable with failure and we're going to get comfortable with pushing hardyou know (steve laughs), and not knowing something because it's okay not to know something andit's okay to fail you know. and so of course one kid raises like, "well, does that meani can get an f in my other classes?" we're
like, "no, that's not we mean!" you know we'retalking about "what do you do when that a is not easy for you, right? what is grit meanto you and how do you push through? how do you get the help that you need so you stickit out in engineering?" you know, in this class we have 17 studentsand like 11 of them are intended engineering majors. they roster our health oriented majors.but you know, there's a few of these folks who are like, "yeah i'm not sure if engineering'sgoing to be the right thing for me." push hard! you need to push hard and do this stuff.so you brought up an issue that i think that as a country we're going to have to figureout what to do. i mean there's one side of it where we've got to improve the way we teachearly math and science. i mean we've got to
do things where people arenâ€™t like completelyturned off the minute they walked into a science class (steve laughs). i mean there has somethings that have to be done, there's no doubt on that. but we also have to be careful thatnot to water it down either. i mean because there's been a big discussion, on this makerconversations. it's like "yeah okay, great! you can come in here and learn your computerstuff and you can learn how to do the 3d printing." but do you understand how that 3d printerworks? do you understand you know what's going on in terms of that, those materials and whythose materials are the right ones? and the chemistry behind these materials that areselected and goes on the 3d printer. yeah, it's really cool that funding is beingmade. but let's look beyond it. so there's
going to be a point where even if we can usethese makerspaces to kind of bring different people in to think about math and scienceand engineering a little bit differently, we're going to have at some point flip theswitch to say, "this is going to be hard but there's going to be a benefit for you to dothe hard work." so it's going to be interesting to see where this movement goes. steve: excellent! well i would love to justjump straight into that but i don't want to keep you too much longer. so let's jump intothe last 2 questions. lisa: sure!steve: in the digital age which we've already referenced a couple of times and you've talkedabout quite a bit, what does it mean to be
"educated"? with quotation marks around theword educated, what does it mean in this environment? lisa: the quick answer is information literacyin my mind. there's so much information out here in this digital environment. you cangrasp anything so quickly from google, right. (laughs) you know you search for things andthere it is. there are texts that you can pull up that you have never been able to pullup from a distance. so there's almost an overload of information in this digital age. that'sa good thing but the thing that i think separates those who are educated or you know to callyou educated is someone and may happen through a formal mechanism and maybe it can be informalas well is that you know how do you discern what that information, that content is andwhat's the strong content and what's the weak
content. and so in my mind the digital natureof education is about information and how much information is out there and how do youreally evaluate that information. so what does it mean to be educated? beingeducated means understanding the boundaries and the limitations of this digital set ofinformation that is out here at our fingertips. steve: i love it! so the last question, withyour perspective on starting out in a small town and then working your way all the wayto the office of the dean, the associate dean, what is the purpose of an education lookingback across all those experiences? lisa: it's about living a strong life. it'sabout living a life of curiosity. it's about opening up new worlds that you might not knowthat are... that's there. it's about understanding
the new worlds that you might not understand.it's about this journey of being able to be open to new experiences and knowing how toengage in those new experiences. knowing how to ask the right questions, knowing to alwayshelp you grow as an individual. you know jobs are important and i don't want to make sureeducation... the purpose of education is you need to feed yourself right. we all know maslow'shierarchy of needs, we need to manage that. but it's about really figuring out you knowhow do you think differently, how do you engage your society differently, how do you contributedifferently, and how do you understand what these contributions are. you know this isa whole world where your curiosity is limitless and if you're giving tools being given toolsthrough your education to manage what all
this limitless possibilities are, that's apretty exciting life that you're going to lead. whether you're a millionaire or whetheryou're... you know you're meeting your basic needs, right, it gives you a sense of purposein the world. it gives a you sense of constant growth and activity and a mind that you cannever, not have that no matter what the boundaries are. you'll always going to have that mindand your excitement and knowing how to use it i think is one of the big purposes thateducation gives us. it's how to use that mind in a creative, exciting, curious way.steve: excellent! well i think we're going to wrap it right there. so for our audience,what's the best way to get in touch with you if they have questions or interested in moreabout what happens at case western?
lisa: they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org,that's the best way. steve: excellent! well thank you lisa!lisa: thank you steve! steve: i look forward to many, many more coolthings that you get involved with there at case western.lisa: well when you come back i want to take you through thinkbox. you're always welcome! outro: if you've been enjoying the conversationsand insights here on the podcast, share it with a friend. great ideas demand to be shared.you can also help fellow parents and educators by subscribing to the table top inventingpodcast in itunes, leaving a rating and writing a review. if you use android, subscribe, leaveus a rating, and write a review in stitcher.
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