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NYU SPS Innovation Day with the United Nations

Updated: May 22


Picture 1: Lightning Panel Session featuring guests from NYU SPS and the United Nations


The Innovation Day event was hosted by NYU SPS on April 30, 2024, from 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM at the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life and featured special guest speakers from the United Nations.


The overarching theme emphasized how diversity fuels innovation, especially in co-creating our future global workplace. This seminar held special significance for NYU SPS, as it has the potential to ignite greater innovation in educating the workforce of today and tomorrow. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn from the practices of the United Nations, which leverages global diversity as an asset in the 21st-century workplace.


Picture 2: Lightning Panel Session featuring guests from NYU SPS and the United Nations


Here are the highlights from the sessions I attended: 


Cultural Innovation in Action: High-Powered Communication for Global Creativity


This session emphasized the significance of intercultural communication and the benefits of diversity in talent pools, all of which are strongly advocated by UN 2.0 - an initiative within the UN focused on modernizing international organizations for the 21st century. Additionally, it discussed another initiative called NewWork - a grassroots community of UN employees dedicated to driving changes in workplace culture toward agility and collaboration.


Driving Innovation in Global Higher Education


Douglas Harrison, Associate Dean in SPS DAUS, explored the reimagining of higher education and the role of SPS in cultivating the workforce of tomorrow. He emphasized the importance of developing a clear plan and objective when fostering work-based learning for student success. 


How to be a Culture Catalyst: Innovating the Inclusive Organizations of Tomorrow


Conducted as a lightning panel, this session emphasized the necessity of scalable resources for effective innovation. They also emphasized the significance of storytelling and inclusive practices for fostering diversity and innovation in the workplace. 


When each speaker was asked about how to become a Culture Catalyst, Teddy Keya, a Senior Program Management Officer of the Anti-racism Office in the Department of Management, Strategy, Policy and Compliance at the United Nations, said, “We tend to gravitate towards people who look like us. Embrace the uncomfortable, and be curious about others.”


I left these sessions feeling deeply inspired about the mindset required to cultivate the next generation of the workforce. While diversity was a central theme throughout these discussions, the real takeaway was the transformative power of fostering an innovative culture within a diverse environment. It became evident that we must prepare students and nurture this culture within the academic realm.


The seminar provided invaluable insights into the future of work and the importance of intercultural communication that can be applied to NYU SPS teaching strategies. As one of the most diverse universities in the US, it is imperative to consider effective approaches to teaching in such a diverse environment. Moreover, given SPS’s commitment to shaping the workforce of tomorrow, it is essential to implement strategies that promote work-based learning in the classroom.

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