The purpose of the Institute for Emerging Issues IEI Faculty Fellows Program is to allow IEI to collaborate with faculty (and students under their guidance) across colleges at NC State University, both so that faculty and students may advance their own research/training interests and so that IEI can increase its contributions to NC State’s ongoing collaborative economic development mission. In the current fiscal 2016-17 year, IEI has used Kenan funding to collaborate purposefully with five faculty members and eleven students.
The following describes these projects.
- FutureWork (three projects: 1 faculty member, 3 students). NCSU faculty member Mike Walden and a graduate student produced a report that analyzed changes in the number of jobs across all occupations in North Carolina between 2000 and 2014 as well as underlying drivers of change. A second project involved the Labor and Economic Analysis division of the NC Department of Commerce (NCDOC) hosting an NCSU Ph.D. candidate for a summer internship to conduct a quantitative research project around the relationships among skill levels, skill types, and wages across the NC economy (occupations and geographies). A third project, involving a newly graduated NCSU student, provided key support to the summer 2016 Prosperity Tour that took IEI to eight communities across the state. IEI engaged several hundred public and private stakeholders across these regions about their levels of preparedness for these large scale changes reshaping many occupations and industries and what policy supports they need to deal with them.
- InnovateNC (2 projects: 2 faculty members, 5 students). IEI’s had two faculty (Deb Littlejohn, Celen Pasalar) from the College of Design overseeing four graduate students working with the five communities participating in IEI’s InnovateNC initiative. The student team provided expertise to turn community level data into visualizations providing engaging information about different dimensions of each community’s innovation ecosystem.
- Emerging Issues Commons (1 project: 1 faculty member, 1 student). A spring 2017 project involving Ben Watson (Dept. of Computer Science) and a graduate student is exploring the feasibility of reprogramming elements of IEI’s Emerging Issues Commons to support new types of data visualizations on the large Connections Wall and tables in the Hunt Library. Watson has a research project to improve the use of data visualization to increase public engagement in scientific issues of societal importance.
- Text, Talk, Future (1 project: 1 faculty member, 3 students). Many of IEI’s programs of work have surfaced a strong need for K-12 students to think about future career opportunities earlier than is typically the case. This is especially important given how many jobs now require job seekers to have more than a high school education. Having a plan, not just to finish high school, but for college and career readiness is essential. Through the Text, Talk, Future initiative, IEI is creating a texting-based platform that promotes this end through small, peer-to-peer conversations involving early stage high school students (9th and 10th graders). Using a proven platform and working with the group of national experts that produced the original Text, Talk, Act program, IEI is currently testing out a conversation script via focus groups. Following the existing model, two supporting short videos are to be produced this term under the direction of Sarah Stein (Dept. of Communication) with the support of three NCSU students. In Fall 2017, IEI expects to have a broader rollout of this initiative using organizations that engage youth in this age group.
In July 2016, the IEI transitioned to the Office of the Provost in order to enhance strategic alignment with the academic community at NC State. Leslie Boney was selected as the new IEI Director and began his role in January 2017.