Innovation Paper

This short paper gives you an opportunity to start doing research and organizing your thoughts for your first presentation, which will focus on an important person/innovator in your field or discipline and their innovation/contribution to the field. For our purposes, we can understand the terms innovation and contribution broadly: your person might have developed and produced a particular tool or technology, or a particular text, concept, or theory; they might be the CEO of an influential company or an important scholar at an academic institution. We can also think of our fields and disciplines broadly, considering them from academic, professional, or cultural perspectives.

Both the Innovation Paper and the presentation should incorporate some research, but they should ultimately move beyond information to analysis. We want you to inform us about the innovator and innovation, but we also want deeper insight into the innovation and how it has contributed to your field. This aspect of your work might draw on research, but it should also draw on your own critical thinking. With this in mind, your Innovation Paper should address the following prompts and questions:

  • Tell us about the innovator and the innovation. We don’t need a complete biography, but we do want a sense for the innovator’s work generally and how it led them to the innovation. For the innovation, we want a clear sense for what it is, what it does, how it works, etc.
  • Why is this innovation significant? How has it shaped and contributed to your field? How might it continue to affect the field into the future?
  • How does the innovation embody your field’s orientation – its attitudes, values, beliefs, assumptions, and general ways of looking at the world? Does the innovation work against or expand this orientation in any way?
  • How does the innovation fit within the field’s design grammar – its principles for what sort of content and social practices and activities are important and acceptable for the field?
  • How does the innovation generate trained incapacities? How does/might the innovation downplay or blind us to particular perspectives, issues, concerns, or values? How does/might the innovation serve as a hindrance to developments within the field?

It might help to think of this as a rough draft of the presentation script (although it doesn’t need to read like a presentation or speech). For this paper, the most important aspect will be research and analysis. We’re less concerned about exactly what your presentation will sound like and more concerned with having the information and insights about the innovation.

The paper should be one page, single-spaced, 12 pt font, with 1″ margins. On a second page, include a bibliography (include any sources you might draw on for your presentation even if you don’t directly cite them in your paper) in MLA or APA format. You should email the paper to me before class the day it is due and bring a hard or electronic copy with you to class.


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