Design & Analysis of a 21st Century, Scalable, Student-Centric Model of Innovation at the Collegiate Level
The Luminosity Lab, located at Arizona State University, is a prototype for a novel model of interdisciplinary, student-led innovation. The model’s design was informed by the following desired outcomes: i) the model would be well-suited for the 21st century, ii) it would attract, motivate, and retain the university’s strongest student talent, iii) it would operate without the oversight of faculty, and iv) it would work towards the conceptualization, design, development, and deployment of solutions that would positively impact society. This model of interdisciplinary research was tested at Arizona State University across four academic years with participation of over 200 students, who represented more than 20 academic disciplines. The results have shown successful integration of interdisciplinary expertise to identify unmet needs, design innovative concepts, and develop research-informed solutions. This dissertation analyzes Luminosity’s model to determine the following: i) Can a collegiate, student-driven interdisciplinary model of innovation designed for the 21st century perform without faculty management? ii) What are the motivators and culture that enable student success within this model? and iii) How does Luminosity differ from traditional research opportunities and learning experiences?
Through a qualitative, grounded theory analysis, this dissertation examines the phenomena of the students engaging in Luminosity’s model, who have demonstrated their ability to serve as the principal investigators and innovators in conducting substantial discovery, research, and innovation work through full project life cycles. This study supports a theory that highly talented students often feel limited by the pace and scope of their college educations, and yearn for experiences that motivate them with agency, achievement, mastery, affinity for colleagues, and a desire to impact society. Through the cumulative effect of these motivators and an organizational design that facilitates a bottom-up approach to student-driven innovation, Luminosity has established itself as a novel model of research and development in the collegiate space.