This note was featured in the 2018 Winter Carnival Issue.
The shortest distance between two points, as the saying goes, is a straight line. But if everyone followed the short and easy paths in their lives, would innovation ever occur? Robert Frost’s oft-quoted wanderer in the woods found two roads before him and took the one less traveled by, but it was a path that had already been carved out before him. Innovation requires us to forge new roads — ones that may not lead in straight lines but in their wake foster creativity, progress and achievement.
How can one describe the collision of academic fields set on parallel tracks, the resurgence of nicotine use in a demographic that had sworn off cigarettes, centuries-worth of societal norms transforming with dizzying speed or students and professors redefining what it means to learn?
Innovation is a word that doesn’t quite capture the dynamism of the concept. It brings to mind dull history lectures on the Industrial Revolution or trite cell phone advertisements. Yet, after hours of brainstorming the theme of this year’s Winter Carnival Special Issue, we came to accept that its conceptual base — fresh, exciting, abnormal, uncomfortable, the inconceivable conceived, familiar things examined upside down — was simply too expansive to be perfectly captured by a single word.
So “innovation” will have to do.
Eliza Jane and Alex