Transformative research. We have seen this term used more and more over the last two decades, spurred in part by its adoption by major funders like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The phrase originated with physicist, historian, and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, who introduced the academic world to the idea of paradigm shifts that restructure and revolutionize scientific inquiry.
Transformation is also a pillar of UNCG’s new strategic plan, which officially launched this year, on the 125th anniversary of the opening of our university.
But what does that transformation — of students, of our region, and of knowledge — look like?
With stories of refugee resettlement, new views on African art, bettering public health, improved educational outcomes, and more, this issue of UNCG Research illustrates just a few of the vast variety of approaches our university is employing on our path to achieving that lofty goal.
Whether it’s bringing high-tech methodologies like blockchain to old-world problems such as property ownership, or digging more deeply into bees’ own natural defenses to find solutions for modern agricultural challenges, transformative scholarship both demands different forms of knowing and results in different forms of knowing.
Methodology is key. New ways of knowing are found through interdisciplinary approaches, such as the Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative’s combination of differing viewpoints, specialties, and techniques. Another major driver is the collective impact that arises from community-engaged research, exemplified in our work on food security, where faculty and community partners are pooling understanding and effort to debunk myths, generate data to illuminate critical issues, and develop and implement solutions.
Transformation can also begin simply through the process of engaging in research. As the students highlighted in this issue have found, conducting research transforms researchers themselves. And, as partners in research, UNCG’s diverse students are also transforming knowledge, the labs in which they work, our campus, and, ultimately, our workforce.
UNCG’s faculty, students, and community partners know that transformation demands cognitive flexibility, openness, struggle, and, yes, a little bit of luck. But as anyone witnessing our giant steps can see, it’s worth it.
As we celebrate our 125th anniversary, UNCG also looks to the future with the establishment of a Millennial Campus along Tate Street and West Gate City Boulevard. The two Millennial Campus districts — one focused on health and wellness, the other on visual and performing arts — will partner with private-sector entities to fuel economic growth, innovation, and job creation, transforming our university and the city beyond.