Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at UNC

I have some exciting news: I’m moving to a new faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I will be the Morgan Distinguished Professor of Educational Innovation, in the School of Education. Readers of this blog know that “educational innovation” is exactly what I study, so this new position is a wonderful match!

In addition to joining the learning sciences program, my first responsibility will be to create a new master’s degree program in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. Here’s an excerpt from the job description:

The new professor will provide leadership in studying, designing, and developing new innovations. He or she will work with students, faculty, and the School and University leadership to create programs of study and forge collaborative partnerships among the academy, industry, government, and the schools.

In particular, the successful applicant will lead an interdisciplinary graduate program designed to help transform education by creating synergies among three elements: innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. Goals of this program include creating a new generation of educational innovators and entrepreneurs and encouraging designs of sustainable organizational forms that promote educational renewal and change.

There’s no existing program like the one envisioned here, and I’m really excited about this opportunity to make a difference in education, both in North Carolina and at a national level.  If you work in educational innovation, technology, or entrepreneurship, please contact me, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And stay tuned to this blog…I may take a break for a couple of months this summer while I move to North Carolina and get settled, but starting in September things will begin to move fast.

18 thoughts on “Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at UNC

  1. Well hello (again, from way back when) Keith.

    Congratulations on your new “enterprise”. No doubt it will involve a lot of zig-zagging 🙂

    I’ve lots of practical experience in this field, from student work place training & learning experiences to recent “living labs” in University settings. All around those same themes & a lot inbetween particularly related to encouraging creative endeavour & propagating purposeful personal development.

    Feel free to quiz the likes-of-me if the inspiration grab you.

    Well Wishes Nic

  2. Dear Keith,

    Great to know about your new project. Some years ago I had the opportunity to participate – create – two academic programs, one undergrad and one graduate study. The challenge was amazing : after even have finished my post-doc I was engaged on defined what I dreamt to have studied during my academic times !! Well, how to better introduce R&D&Innovation management tools for young people ? How can we afford not to use since the kickoff of your academic endeavour ? How to better use R&D&Innovation tools to become a better scientist, engineer, techi, business manager ? …..after some years of such a challenge, I am offering contracts to my best former students and we are capitalizing such a pre-emptive lessons. Here we have some examples of such an effort already materialized on innovations

  3. Dear Keith,

    Congratulations.I am soooo thrilled for you.What an amazing opportunity.

    You asked people to write who work/ed in educational innovation, technology and entrepreneurship and share their here I am.

    Although I am no longer doing what I used to do “officially” I am still an innovator, pioneer and trailblazer. I have been that way all my life. Currently, I am most interested in the application of various practicesspecifically right now, Aikido, Feldenkrais, Improv (which is how I came to know you), and soonDrama “stuff”

    I am attaching some personal bio infobecause it might be more interesting and/or usefulthen lengthly blah, blah, blah

    You asked for some “thoughts.”

    Here are mine for whatever use they may be.

    PLEASE.make some part of the curriculum/activities available as an on-line experience so some of can overcome time and space to participate. The notion of sustainable is an enigmawhen I recently asked a friend of mine who is getting her MBA from Bainbridge Institute what their working definition of sustainable business practices isshe said they don’t have one The idea of sustaibability feels a bit vapid to me sorta like use that buzz word and you’ll get into the club. Help to develop some starch to the ideaso it can stand tall and be proud. I know it’s probably hard to dogiven that you are in an academic institution and all but broaden the base to outside the lines. Although this is hard for me to do tooI have found my most useful learning occurs outside my comfort zone where I tend to make a mess I encourage all of us to engage our bodies in the dialogue.somehowso it’s not all just an intellectual exercise. I am a basketball fanand of course we are into the finalsHere’s why I love basketball.. Improv in the air

    I have this dreamto bring together all the expertise from the nexus of Aikido, Feldenkrais, Improv, Basketball and Music/theaterI mean… just imagine, You, Me, Thomas Crum Richard Heckler, Lavinia Plonka, Suzane Van Amburg, Keith Johnston, Bobbie McFerrin, Armand Volkas, and probably a bunch I haven’t even thought of to collaborate. Although it is entirely possible that it could be impossiblebecause as Arlo Guthrie says of his Dad, Woody, when all the folk singers thought about getting together to jam… they all didn’t play well with others. Just a thought..and a long held dream of mineI keep mushing it to see how it looks at each new mushy turn.

    Again, I am trilled for you as a pioneer to have this wonderful opportunity.

    If there is any way I can participate and/or be of useplease call on me503-894-0528 or email me…

    Although I used to live in Asheville just 3 years ago, I’ll be cheering you on from Portland, OR now no matter what.

    Warm regards,

    Kathy Dee Zasloff We’re all beginnerssome of us have just been practicing longer.

    1. Thank you so much! I am a big fan of Portland, Oregon, I spent a lot of time there in the 1980s before it was “discovered” and it felt like a big secret to know it was so wonderful.

  4. Wow, Keith, congratulations! Funny that we are [sort of] neighbors again in the Triangle. Do you know of the McColl Center in Charlotte? They have an Innovation Institute that is developing workshops between artists & business world professionals; might be interesting to you. Good luck with the moving! Christina

  5. Dear Mr. Sawyer,

    Just a short follow up

    I realized in rereading my email with suggestions that it was a bit more “personal” than I had intendedI sometimes get carried away.In the part where I was explaining my vision about the collaboration experienceand I and mewhat I meant was someone (maybe you) from the Departmentand meand I forgot to addpeople you think would be helpful in the mix.

    and alsoI had one additional thoughtI would love to take be part of the programsounds like such an inviting and exhilarating experienceand what I would really love is just to do the learning partA masters would be nice but I really just want the learning experience

    Had a similar experience in Culinary School. Had to enroll in the program in order to get the learning I wantedI took the whole first year and didn’t do the final project in the school’s format. I created the Gluten Free Neighborhood instead which served my purpose.

    I am a passionate life long learner and am just jazzed about your new program

    Best of luck

    Kathy Dee

    We’re all beginners, some of us have just been practicing longer

  6. Congratulations, Keith! I did my graduate work in Educational Leadership at UNC, and taught in the ed leadership department for several years. It’s a wonderful place to be. Had you shown up a few years earlier, or had I stuck around a few years longer, we might have had the opportunity to collaborate!


  7. Hello! I was doing research online about masters programs that address innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship and I came across your post. Do you know the timeline of when this new masters program will be offered? I am currently an undergraduate student studying art & design. Technology and entrepreneurship intrigue me and they have been my main focuses during my various internships, community activities, and readings.

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