Let’s not rush into disruptive innovation

Posted on April 24th, 2017

In this essay, Johann N. Neem, senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and professor of history at Western Washington University, argues that the idea of disruptive innovation at institutions, including colleges and universities, follows a problematic “narrative of speed.” He cites Harvard University historian Jill Lepore, who has written that disruptive innovation is “not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity.” Neem says that “we must remember what colleges and universities are for and ensure that those purposes are sustained, even as our institutions continue to evolve. In short, we must respond deliberatively, not out of fear that the world is moving too fast for thought.”