Translating science into social innovation
The Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society (CARSS) was established in January 2003 to extend and strengthen the foundations of social and behavioral science. Its unique way of doing so is through social innovation, by seeking solutions. CARSS uses society’s vexing problems as challenges to get outside what we think we know, to arrive at more effective fundamental concepts, theories, and methods by which to minimize if not overcome those often longstanding problems.
CARSS addresses the big, vexing and urgent issues of our day. Examples include:
- Globalization and sustainable, equitable development
- Terrorism and international relations
- Climate change and human habitat
- Education achievement gaps
- Genomics, proteomics, and the ethical extension of healthy lives
This is not academic business as usual. Issues of this scope and complexity require new knowledge and technology, novel research developed by people truly prepared and committed to work together, sometimes over many years. That collaboration is guided by, and grounded in, the real world, and their research is not just for the sake of generating new knowledge. CARSS projects draw upon all relevant perspectives and methods and involve – as full partners – practitioners and non-academic leaders. Our project teams draw upon many types of expertise, for example:
- Academic experts across many specialties
- Business leaders
- Industry-based scientists
- Local and national government executives and agency representatives
- Non-profit innovators
Nurturing a new way of thinking
CARSS secures the “venture capital”—the time and resources–these interdisciplinary teams or networks (anchored by a core of two or more University of Michigan faculty) need to think and build outside existing paradigms—to engage in social innovation by expanding the boundaries of what we know and of how that new knowledge is applied in new ways.