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New Mexico Highlands University, one of two core partners in SFIP’s affiliate the Center for Cultural Technology, will offer expanded opportunities thanks to a new degree program to be offered by the Department of Media Arts & Design. On November 17th, the New Mexico Board of Finance approved the MFA in media arts and cultural technology in a unanimous vote. According to Professor Miriam Langer, the new MFA program will build upon a strong 10-year partnership between Highlands and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs in the Center for Cultural Technology (CCT). The partnership places paid interns in museums and other cultural institutions throughout the state as part of the university’s one-of-a-kind AmeriCorps Cultural Technology (ACT) program. Each MFA student will be required to complete a minimum of 600 hours of internship in a cultural setting. Highlands is now submitting the new MFA to the Higher Learning Commission, the university’s accrediting agency, for approval. The new program will begin fall semester 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

We had the great pleasure of visiting Oaxaca, Mexico recently, an amazing city with striking parallels to SFIP’s home town of Santa Fe: a strong cultural, artistic, and culinary flavor; significant indigenous populations; and efforts to grow both a creative economy and a social impact ecosystem. The potential for collaboration was immediately evident, and the opportunity to do so presented itself serendipitously.

Oaxaca graffitiIn addition to outstanding cultural institutions, a well-preserved colonial-era downtown, fabulous restaurants, artisanal craft villages of world renown, and Zapotec ruins (including their capital city of Monte Alban), the overall spirit of the place is warm, friendly, cheerful, and welcoming.

Happily, we had heard about Hub Oaxaca, one of many “impact hubs” worldwide which share interests with SFIP’s impact investing collaboration, IN Santa Fe. A visit to their facility and conversations with key personnel proved fruitful, as we uncovered similarities, shared challenges, and potential solutions; and that resulted in an ongoing dialog with Daniel Oxenhandler, the new curator of the affiliated CATAPULTA  Social Innovation Festival about how we might work together under the framework of “sister social innovation cities” to collaborate on projects and programs, with the working project title “Viejo/Nuevo.” Read the rest of this entry »

This post, on initial activities of SFIP’s collaboration with Story of Place Institute on the IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) impact investing project, originally appeared on the Santa Fe Startup Weekend blog:

“Social entrepreneurs recognize social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change. To be one takes courage, a keen mind and a big heart. —It’s no easy gig.”   – Octavious Murphy

Have an idea for something that could really benefit the well being of our community—or the world? Bring it to Santa Fe Startup Weekend!

At this year’s Santa Fe Startup Weekend, participants will get an introduction to thinking more broadly about the kind of social impact their emerging businesses can have.

IN Santa Fe (Impact Network Santa Fe) is championing the idea of “place sourced, impact investing,” to all current entrepreneurs and potential investors. IN Santa Fe’s design combines doing financially well with doing social good. Through the growing network being formed by IN Santa Fe Directors David Breecker and Nicholas Mang, emerging social enterprises can be aligned with potential impact investors to leverage social, environmental, and economic benefits within the communities they thrive in.

What’s different this year?

In addition to basic business coaching that all Startup Weekend events provide, social enterprise coaches will also be made available at Santa Fe Startup Weekend this year to help interested entrepreneurs in developing their “social impact plan” as an integrated part of their overall business concept. When participants get together to explore the value of their potential startups, they will be evaluated for more than just the bottom line. Judges this year will also evaluate those that are looking at overall impact on the society or group in which the venture seeks to market its product or service.

Through this year’s social entrepreneurship experiment, participants will not only get free mentorship, they have a chance to be chosen as a member of the IN Santa Fe “Social Entrepreneur Challenge,” to further learn about building their enterprise with free working space, startup support and connection to a growing network of local impact investors.

So to all those entrepreneurs who want to make a big difference in your community:  bring your ideas to Startup Weekend and join experts in the art and science of the business of doing good. Register here!

Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) recently took a significant step toward fulfilling the goal of integrating creative problem solving techniques with challenges and processes in other domains. The following post originally appeared in the MSL news blog on May 5, 2014:

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. Read the rest of this entry »

Some recent readings have conspired with the launch of SFIP’s collaboration with artist Sydney Cooper and the Portray.It project’s design phase, to make us ponder the essential role of the imagination in deep innovation.

Let’s start with the magnificent Marina Warner, one of our most profound scholars of and thinkers in the realms of magic, myth, and mystery. In her new book, “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights,” she offers the following observations (emphasis added):

“Magic is not simply a matter of the occult or the esoteric, of astrology, Wicca and Satanism; it follows processes inherent to human consciousness and connected to constructive and imaginative thought. The faculties of imagination — dream, projection, fantasy — are bound up with the faculties of reasoning and essential to making the leap beyond the known into the unknown. At one pole (myth), magic is associated with poetic truth, at another (the history of science) with inquiry and speculation. It was bound up with understanding physical forces in nature and led to technical ingenuity and discoveries. Magical thinking structures the processes of imagination, and imagining something can and sometimes must precede the fact or the act; it has shaped many features of Western civilization. But its influence has been constantly disavowed since the Enlightenment, and consequently misunderstood.” Read the rest of this entry »

One of SFIP’s programmatic interests, under its transdisciplinary problem-solving theme, is the idea of “artist-driven innovation.” Due to their singularity of vision, passion, and imagination, artists and designers often drive achievements in other synergistic areas to new levels that mere mortals can’t imagine (think Frank Gehry and his custom CAD software, for example).

So we’re especially pleased to announce our first artist-driven innovation project, We the People, in collaboration with Santa Fe artist Sydney Cooper and leading Santa Fe design studio Anagram. Click through to the Project Description to learn more, and join the project crowd-funding effort on United States Artists.

Having so far weathered the Great Recession (and even benefited from it in terms of being forced to think very carefully about our core mission and value), SFIP recently revised its strategy and business plan from top to bottom. Many of these changes are already reflected in the content on this site, but we want to elaborate a bit here for our community of interest. We call this SFIP 3.0 because there have been two prior iterations, but also because 2.0 already sounds so old hat these days. Onwards…

The Problem with Problems

We all know that local, national, and global communities face critical challenges in areas such as energy and climate, healthcare, public education, environmental degradation, and sustainable economic development. But despite the massive resources we devote to these problems, in many ways things are getting worse instead of better.

A new approach is needed, one that moves us from incremental tweaks to systemic transformation, and scales to address the global challenges of our time. Read the rest of this entry »

This post, by SFIP advisor Saul Kaplan, originally appeared on his blog at the Business Innovation Factory, where Saul is Chief Catalyst. BIF is also a valued SFIP institutional alliance member. Saul’s observations capture the essence of SFIP’s transdisciplinary process, and the role of the arts, design, and creative fields so well that we’re offering it here for the SFIP community:

From STEM to STEAM

I’m a sucker for any event promising an interdisciplinary experience and an opportunity to dive into the unknown between silos.  I was fortunate to attend, Make it Better, a recent symposium at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on art, design, and the future of healthcare. It delivered. I was reminded of the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials. You got your art in my science!  No, You got your science in my art!  Art and science, two great tastes that taste good together. It amazes me in today’s always on and connected world we still have to be nudged, or for many, blasted out of our silos to experience the magic of interdisciplinary thinking and doing. The timing couldn’t have been better for a participative conversation about combining art, design, and healthcare.  There is growing recognition that our US health care system is unsustainable. The imperative is to transform from our current “sick care” system to a “well care” system. We need to go from an institution-centered approach to a human-centered approach. We need to go from tweaks to transformation. Art and design can be key enablers for transforming health care. Read the rest of this entry »

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