DIANE BURTON: Thank you all for a really terrific day. I am I'm proud of all of us. I'm thrilled to have been part of this. I think those of you who haven't been part of our team and part of our journey, thank you for attending. I hope we've inspired you. I hope you'll continue interacting with us.
I want to quickly just talk a little bit about what we strove for and then what we managed to accomplish, and where we are headed, we hope, going forward. Our theme is creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Those are words that, when we first formed the proposal a few years ago, you didn't see together very often. And now, if you just start googling, everybody has a center for creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation. And when we put them together, we were really out there first. And so in some ways, we were early adopters on this trend.
But we had a mission, a very particular mission, which was to bring a rigorous social scientific perspective. And in fact, when you look out in the world, most of the centers of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship-- those centers tend to reside in business schools exclusively, or in engineering schools, exclusively. We are rare here, at Cornell. And I don't think we celebrate this enough-- that our notion is to be university-wide, to be across the entire campus. Our entrepreneurship at Cornell brings together all of the colleges, from agriculture to veterinary science, including engineering and business, but also importantly, arts and sciences. And so our mission is to reassert the importance of social science and the value of the social scientific understanding on this phenomena, recognizing our ties, and the extent to which we benefit from the humanities and from the more applied colleges.
We had something going-in premises when we wrote our proposal, right, that obviously, we almost take this for granted now, that innovation and entrepreneurship are important engines of the global economy. There's growing interest in and demand for entrepreneurship education. And our premise, again, was that we need a better foundation, a better social scientific foundation from which to design this curriculum to create the future that we want to live in.
And again, I think, as our keynote Natalie reminded us, right, we are inventing the future that we want to live in, these complicated interactive social systems-- we all need to be part of the conversation. We can't let it just to be technologists leading that conversation. And we really, to our core, believe that we, here at Cornell, have something unique to say. We have a unique voice because of our ability to draw across boundaries and to connect across boundaries.
We have a distinctive perspective. That perspective comes from being a great university, right? We have incredible disciplinary excellence and very strong social science departments. We, in this theme project, have drawn upon sociology, psychology, and applied economics. But we also have some unique strengths here, at Cornell, right? Our Science and Technology Studies is a gem on the planet-- thought leadership.
Our Industrial and Labor Relations School, again, a gem on the planet-- real thought leaders. And our links between law and economics-- we're rare in having these places. These are special programs that not every university has, combined with strong core social science disciplines, gives us a different voice and a different perspective.
We also have here, at Cornell, a very strong tradition, right-- it's almost in our DNA-- of combining theory and practice. It's part of the founding mission, right, of Ezra Cornell and AD White, that they brought together the idea of the scholar and the idea of the engineer and the tinkerer and the practitioner. And so that combination, and the real-- the land grant mission to share our knowledge widely. So those things, right, again, why do we think Cornell should have a unique voice? Because look at where we're coming from. Look at the building blocks that we have to build upon.
Our project is explicitly interdisciplinary and I am going to be the first to admit-- this was hard. It's hard to walk across disciplinary boundaries. It's incredibly challenging. We speak different languages. We live in different silos.
What is taken for granted-- core knowledge that you don't even have to discuss or debate, we ended up having to debate. We used the same words to mean different things. We worked hard and really learned from each other. Over the first year, it was a painful learning process. It was a sometimes frustrating learning process.
I think we've all emerged. We're all here. We're happy. We're still friends and we enjoy each other's company. So it was a powerful and beneficial interdisciplinary conversation that led to some real tangible outcomes, right?
We are trying to really seed new research, build some new educational programs, do new teaching, and do some serious outreach into the world. And so we had some real mechanisms for doing that-- we spent a lot of the resources that came from the ISS theme project in funding collaborative interdisciplinary projects. Many of the examples of this research are here in the form of the poster sessions that we shared over lunch.
And this is a small sampling of the research that we're doing, but you can see the cross-disciplinary ideas here, right, our innovation in legal language that draws upon topic modeling and the new advanced social sciences statistics and the tools that are coming out of information science. We wouldn't have gotten there had we not had a lawyer teaching us about mortgage-backed securities, and a student from the Johnson School, originally an accountant, who we, somehow, converted to be a sociologist, right, come together to say, wait a minute. These prospectuses, these documents that described the risks associated with mortgage-backed securities, we think of these as somehow true. They accurately describe how risky an investment is.
Well, if they accurately describe how risky an investment is and there are thousands of different investment options, how can the words be exactly the same, right? It's kind of a shocking finding. And so we're bringing a social science.
Is it because the lawyers are just copying? Is it because there's a reluctance to actually truly disclose what is-- do we not know what the risk is? Some people are better at sensing what risks are out there than others. These are core social science questions, and our mortgage-backed securities project is really just an example of how you could bring social science and bring social scientific insights to ask important questions about the world.
We collectively ran a doctoral seminar that drew students from across the university. We're trying to seed, again, many of our students, many of our doctoral students, to think broadly and collaboratively and across boundaries. And so we have a number of students who went through that program and now have dissertation committees that cut across college boundaries. We have a number of new undergraduate courses and, as Chuck just shared, this new degree program.
I want to talk specifically about some of our outreach activities, which I think we're also quite proud of. But here, let me just in one slide, summarize what we have been able to do with this seed funding of about $300,000 to bring a group of 10 faculty together over a three-year period. Three of our team members who were associate professors when they started the project were promoted to full professor-- Melissa Ferguson, who kicked off the psychology of entrepreneurship, the psychology of creativity. Her collaborator Jack Goncalo-- both had been promoted to full professor. And Wesley Sine from the Johnson School was promoted to full professor during the period of our theme project.
We, as a team, have produced 51 publications that we've counted, at least. Not everybody was as diligent about giving me their most updated CVs, so we have at least 51 publications, $2 million in external funding, 36 sub-projects, more than half of which are collaborative and include at least two team members and often a student. We have 106 affiliates from across the campus-- 106 people said, I'm interested in the social science of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. And you can see we've kept the room reasonably full throughout the day.
As part of our funding of research and our emphasis on research, we awarded grants to graduate students, again, the products of which you see in some of these posters. We've engaged undergraduates in our research. We had eight undergraduate research assistants. We've taught 35 different courses.
And our new big data metric-- people are visiting our website. We have an a monthly hit rate of 686, which I know is not huge. But for something that just went live and doesn't have any search engine optimization and is kind of sitting under the radar screen, we're pretty excited about this.
One of the things that we did, right, the last thing this campus needs is another seminar series. There are seminars advertised everywhere, and so we very consciously and deliberately reached out to the existing, well-attended seminar series and partnered with them to bring in experts, world-renowned experts from across different disciplines, from around the country to talk about work that was related to creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. And so this map gives you a picture of the nine different seminars that we co-sponsored in our in residence here, which was last year.
And of course, we spilled over into both shoulders and are still spilling over because this co-sponsoring approach really works, right? We bring our audience to a different audience to facilitate this cross-departmental conversation. And so just going around, Howard Aldrich, one of the early pioneers of entrepreneurship and sociology, was co-sponsored by the Sociology department and the Center for the Study of Economy and Society.
We had some practitioners-- Chris Schroeder and Duncan Watts. Chris Schroeder wrote a book called Startup Rising about startups in the Arab world. He is an avid tweeter, if any of you are following. He's a LinkedIn thought leader. We were able to bring him here with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, co-sponsored with the Arab Student Association. So again, we brought undergraduates in who have an affinity group to learn about entrepreneurship in Arab countries.
Duncan Watts was here as an AD White professor. He's a graduate of ours, of our university. He's currently leading a very interesting research lab at Microsoft. He came and spoke to our group.
We had a number of leading academics kind of coming around the circle-- Rob Farrelly, Josh Lerner, Jenny Chapman. These are really-- these are people-- the doctoral students in the room, if you read it all about entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation, these are some of the people who are doing the most exciting work. We were able to get them to come, to interact with them in a co-sponsored way. Most recently, we had Henry Hyatt from the Census Bureau. Census Bureau is eagerly trying to improve the quality of their statistics to measure entrepreneurship, which it's actually really quite difficult to measure. And so Henry talked about some of the things that they're doing.
I want to make a quick plug-- we have another seminar next week, a doctoral student, Steph Sentosa, from the Science and Technology Studies Program who has been on leave in the White House with a fancy title like the Chief of Maker, or Special Assistant for The Maker Movement. Very involved in technology policy and innovation policy, she's one of the graduates-- one of the students in our program that we're proud of, excited to be working with. She's going to come and share her perspective, what she learned in Washington advising the White House on technology policy and her work in the maker movement. And so that's-- again, we're still doing these co-sponsored events, trying to spread the word broadly.
AUDIENCE: And where is that?
DIANE BURTON: There is a poster right back there that I didn't manage to get into my slide deck in time. It's-- can you read it? Is it right-- is it on the table? Where--
AUDIENCE: It's March the 23rd, Wednesday, two talks. "A Day in the Life of a Senior Advisor in The White House" is one talk. And then the second is "Creating a Nation of Makers-- Leveraging Policy and Mobilized Support for the Maker Community, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship of the White House."
DIANE BURTON: So Wednesday, March 23rd.
AUDIENCE: One's at lunch and one's at 4 o'clock.
DIANE BURTON: One's at lunch, one's at 4 o'clock. We will advertise widely. If you're not on our mailing list, make sure you get on our mailing list before you leave today so we can let you know when that talk will be.
OK, so interdisciplinary work is very hard-- creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship are very big topics. After really some all-day trying to hammer things out events, we decided to divide and conquer. And we didn't neatly and perfectly divide, but we really broke into sub-teams around each of our core pillars teams, around creativity, around innovation, around entrepreneurship.
And that sub-committee, I think it's testimony to the Institute for Social Sciences new idea, that about five people is probably the right number of people to really get work done. 10 is a little bit too big, and we actually know this from social science, why we didn't apply this to our own design, right? Smaller, about 5 is about the right number of a size of a committee to get things done, OK?
So we're learning. We're adapting. And you see how we broke up and a number of us cut across these categories. What did we do? What did we do?
The creativity group, you saw if you were here early this morning, really has done an incredible stream of laboratory-based experiments. They've done lab experience with students. They've done experiments with the Mechanical Turk, where they're really trying to get a handle on what is creativity? How do people evaluate creativity? How do we know creativity when we see it? What are the personality characteristics that are associated with creativity-- personality characteristics like narcissism, for example?
That is an ongoing stream that we're going to continue working on. We do think we have some early evidence that people make judgments. They make the same kind of snap judgments, the very biased that they're not willing to admit snap judgments that we make about race, that we make about gender, they make about how creative a person is, right? And so we have some evidence on that, and expect to see much more.
The second thing we did in our creativity stream is that we really-- we really took the humanities and the arts seriously and we believed, and I think we were actually quite right that we would learn a lot by engaging with extraordinarily creative people, and that social scientists could learn something from artists, musicians, artists about what it takes to be creative and what the creative process is actually like. And so that was one of our activities, which I'm going to share in a little bit more detail. The innovation stream has done both quantitative and archival work, and you saw some of this. We're really pushing big data. We're really pushing innovative methodologies. We're really trying to understand the nature of this new digital world. We've been looking at finance and in music as exemplars of industries where digitisation is radically altering what's happening.
And then in entrepreneurship, again, this is ongoing. We have our new program. There is a bubbling up effort to create a minor in entrepreneurship that we are participating in the conversation of what that design should be. We continue to engage with entrepreneurship at Cornell. We were part of the panel at the sesquicentennial celebration, Cornell's 150th anniversary on entrepreneurship and how Cornellians are-- what Cornellians are doing around entrepreneurship.
We had some big questions, right? Some big questions that we're trying-- we're still trying to answer, we're working on. We're making progress, right? What do we know about the context? Can we recognize ideas? What can we learn?
And we're getting to how can we teach people to be more creative, right? But third-- what can we learn from extraordinarily creative individuals, one of the big events that our theme project put together was a workshop in New York City called Artists and Social Scientists-- Doing Things Together. This was the last spring in April. Natalie was one of our speakers there.
We also had a very esteemed sociologist, Howard Becker, who was beaming in from Chicago. And a group of Cornellians, but also outside people-- social scientists, artists, and social scientists who are also artists. And so we had this interesting combination of people and a conversation that we were able to capture on video, and create a little compilation that gives you a flavor of what that event was. Here are all of the presenters. Some of them are familiar faces, I hope.
And let me--
- The reason for it is to try to bring social science and art together. They are very much separate and we think that they have-- we can't really talk for the artist, but we surely can talk for the social scientist, that they have a lot to learn from the artists. And so in the old days, sociologists used to do Sociology of Art. They sort of took art and analyzed it.
And we are more interested, really, in looking at the practices of artists. We. think that they are superior to social scientists in a lot of ways. They hear things we don't do, the musicians. They see things-- the painters, the photographers, that we don't see, et cetera. And we would like to learn from them and introduce some of their skills.
- I'm a practicing artist. I'm known as an artist. My PhDs are in the sciences, in history and philosophy of science and neuroscience and engineering, so I-- but known-- my practice. a I've just opened an exhibition t the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
And so I suppose what I bring to this conversation is the struggle of being able to account for my artistic practice in a social scientific world, which has always and already been very difficult, and the lack of engagement, particularly with the content and the work of social scientists with practice. I'd like to see social scientists as art critics. That's essential to me if they want to write, to engage with our practices as part of an intellectual discussion.
- We are living in a time where creativity has become the battle cry of the neoliberal economy. We're constantly asked to be creative. We are taking classes to be more creative, such that we can sell ourselves a little bit better on the market, such that we have to think more critically about the term and the practices that are supposed to make you creative, or that foster creativity because it's also a term that licenses income inequalities-- the creative classes are rich and the less creative classes are poor, such that we need to think more about what kind of creativity do we want? And that's what I'm trying to say, something that's little bit a critical reflection on that term, on the practices that are connected with it, and some suggestions about how we can get to an understanding of creativity that may decouple it from the neoliberal economic project.
- Part of operating in these really fun and exciting and dynamic worlds means living with part art and part science. If you're too far on one side or the other, it can be a frustrating outcome. But if you're comfortable with that, then that's sort of a great middle ground to be in.
- One of the things that we're doing here is thinking about how you set up those situations where people can productively engage, sometimes to do something together, to fuse their knowledge and come up with something really new in a combination. Other times, people can get-- coming from different disciplines or different areas, may participate in the same kind of event like the one we're doing today and leave with something really productive for their separate fields of activity. So there's lots of different combinations.
- Ideally, this is the hope, there are ways of knowing that can come out of these kinds of collaborations that are a little bit different than how we each, individually, from a disciplinary or work perspective, approach the world.
DIANE BURTON: That was just a quick flavor of what we were able to do and what was, I believe, a very engaging and stimulating event. Our teammate Richard Swedberg, who is actually on leave this semester, so he's unable to be with us, is developing a new book that is coming out of this work. He's presenting some of the early ideas at the American Sociological Association. So again, this idea that we're able to take things that come from the collective, each productively use them, but also jointly produce and collaborate and create things, has been a theme throughout our theme project.
We heard earlier a lot about innovation and how we're thinking about innovation, and really, how the study of innovation needs innovative research methods. The way we've approached the topic has been very informed by David Strang's research on diffusion and the diffusion of innovations. And we're continuing to draw upon that as a foundational core, but spreading it in different ways.
And then our approach to entrepreneurship, again, drawing from what is distinctive about Cornell, that many of us who are interested in entrepreneurship come at it from the perspective of the Labor School. We care about workers. We care about workers. We care about the social welfare.
And so not only do we care about our firms being created, are they good firms, creating good products? Are they creating jobs? Are these jobs good jobs? Much of the political rhetoric around entrepreneurship is about it being an engine of job creation, but if those jobs are Uber taxi drivers, I'm not sure that that's the kind of innovation that we-- is that the best we can do, is I think the question I would put out there for us?
OK, so last, at the kickoff lecture, I told a story about John Harrison and the story of the invention of the marine chronometer. It was the story of longitude. Today, I want to tell you a story about Frederic Tudor. Frederick Tudor, and this is a picture of Frederic Tudor, was a Boston entrepreneur. He was alive 1783 to 1864.
His story is kind of-- most people who are familiar with his story learned about it through Jim Utterback's book from about 20 years ago in 1996, Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation. Utterback was one of the first people who talked about S-curves and disruptive technology. Clayton Christensen has popularized it. He's kind of the Malcolm Gladwell of that idea.
Jim Utterback was one of the early people who really was studying it as an economist, and he was standing on the shoulders of some other earlier economists. But again, these ideas about disruptive innovation have been around for a very long time, and the subject of deep scholarly study. Jim Utterback introduces Frederic Tudor because he was an entrepreneur in Boston who realized, what do we have in abundance? What did he have an abundance in Boston? Cold weather and ice-- Frederic Tudor is known as The Ice King.
And in fact, there was a terrific podcast, which I just ran across. Now I've known about Frederic Tudor, been lecturing about Frederic Tudor for a long time. I didn't just hear it on 99% Invisible, I promise you. But 99% Invisible, if you're not familiar with this, is a really interesting podcast about design. They have a great episode, just a few weeks ago about Frederic Tudor and The Ice King, that gives the story in a pretty compelling way.
I'm not going to do it justice. I'm going to give a quick snapshot of it. But what Frederic Tudor recognized as the ponds were all freezing and farmers in New England did recognize the benefits of ice for food preservation, and so ice houses were very common on farms and people would harvest ice blocks and store them in their ice houses, and often near a creek to try and keep them cold, and they were used for food preservation. Frederic Tudor thought, wait a minute-- we could scale this up. We could make this into mass production. We could take advantage of this natural resource and export it to people who never see frozen water, and what a luxury it would be.
And so those of you who have small children are going to recognize this-- what does natural ice harvesting look like? Well, the best example, the best representation of it is in-- [AUDIO OUT]
[MUSIC - "FROZEN HEART"]
- (SINGING) Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, this icy force both foul and fair has a frozen heart worth mining. So cut through the heart, cold and clear, strike for love and strike for fear. See the beauty sharp and clear. Split the ice apart and break the frozen heart.
Ho! Watch your step! Let it go! Ha! Ho! Watch your step. Let it go.
(SINGING) Ice has a magic, can't be controlled, stronger than one, stronger than ten, stronger than 100 men! Ha!
DIANE BURTON: I'm going to stop. OK, but that is the image of what natural ice-harvesting actually looked like. It was quite a common practice. But Frederic Tudor thought, let's take this to another level. And he was able to build an incredible ice-harvesting operation on what many of you may be familiar with just outside of Harvard, Harvard Square, on the boundaries of Cambridge Fresh Pond in Cambridge.
Fresh Pond-- he built almost a factory and hired teams of horses, teams of laborers to harvest ice, store it in his ice warehouses. But his biggest innovation, his biggest idea was to make this a luxury good. I mean, to make this a luxury good, and won't the people in Calcutta be amazed when they see what a cold beverage is like, and when they see the magic of ice?
And he raised money and commissioned a ship and specially outfitted his ship in 1833 to complete the 180-day voyage, right, to India. He put 200 tons of ice in this ship, a feat in and of itself, right? Made the voyage-- after the 180 days, he still had 100 tons. So half of his-- half of his product was gone, but he still had 100 tons.
Well, of course, it was highly perishable and this was a disastrous idea because he got it to Calcutta, but nobody knew what to do with it. And he couldn't keep it very long because once he got it off the ships, it was just melting into water dramatically. But he celebrated the success. He celebrated the success.
There's a good idea here. There's a good idea of bringing something that people don't know about to the world. And he wasn't deterred. Even though he lost money in this initial venture, he went back. Luckily, he came from resources.
He came back. He founded the Tudor Ice Company and started exporting more locally, right, down to Charleston, South Carolina, over to the UK, amazingly. Can you imagine-- the US, we were shipping ice to England? Now the Norwegians did eventually catch on and realized they could compete here. And in fact, lots of people caught on because this was a natural resource that was available to everyone.
But what made Tudor special and what made him unique, and really, why I think he's a powerful and important story, is that he understood the product and the value of the product. But he knew what it would really take to realize this value was an investment in infrastructure. And so his genius was to build tools to innovate in the processes of harvesting, to think about how do we scale this up? To think about how do we build the ice houses, how do we build horse saws that can plane and cut more effectively and more efficiently? So it's not just one person and one horse, but it's teams of people and one horse pulling many plows, and it was elaborate walkways and mechanisms and processes that allowed the value that was there to be scaled and to grow and to really change the world.
This is a kind of terrible picture, it's a cartoon that was published in Harper's Magazine. But it gives you a little more of-- if you can see it, it's an amalgamation of some different images of what, at the peak of the ice harvesting industry, the natural ice harvesting industry, what it looked like. It was giant buildings on ponds that had conveyor belt-driven escalators to get giant blocks of ice. It was precision cutting tools that were in the earlier slides to make the blocks uniform.
It was a lot of experimentation with insulation materials. They learned that sawdust is an incredible insulator for ice. And then it was custom outfitted barges and ships and ice wagons. And you may have elderly relatives who call the refrigerator 'the icebox,' right? That's because there was a special box and wagons delivered ice to homes. And again, it became ubiquitous, important, taken for granted, and a thriving and booming industry.
Now nobody has an icebox anymore and very few people are getting natural ice anymore. The disruptive innovation that came from the South, where Southerners were tired of paying these Yankees their exorbitant prices for ice, and Southerners invented refrigeration and machine-made ice and it really displaced the natural ice, but that's not the part of the story that's important. This always happens. We know this about the nature of innovation, that disruptive technologies come in.
I want to focus on the scaling up and the early, right? The need for infrastructure and the investment in infrastructure it takes to allow things to spread, and that, I think, is the powerful lesson that we want to take away from Tudor. And it's why I'm telling this story as part of our theme project because it feels like we have invested in the infrastructure of a social science of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We're on the cusp of it.
But it could be just a failed entrepreneurial endeavor. It could be the first launch and we go to Calcutta and it all melts away. Or we can build on these foundations and continue to thrive and grow and keep the interdisciplinary connections alive.
Cornell can have a unique perspective and a distinctive voice on the social science of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. I hope we can continue to do that going forward. Thank you all for your time and attention.
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Diane Burton, project leader for the Institute for Social Sciences (ISS) collaborative project on Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, gives closing remarks at the project's capstone event March 11, 2016. The project aimed to understand how novel ideas are created, developed, valued, and diffused, leading to ground-breaking changes in cultural, social, and economic interaction.
Founded in 2004, the Institute for the Social Sciences encourages collaborative research across the university on cutting-edge topics within the social sciences.