No future Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) competition is planned at this time. NSF has granted approximately thirty awards associated with this activity. The projects are active and provide examples of effective practices and lessons learned. The solicitation below is from 2010:
Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) Creativity, connectivity, integration, and synergy are keys to innovation and to developing human and institutional capacity to full potential. In both research and education, it is the forging of new links between ideas or methodologies that were previously disparate that frequently paves the way for innovation. When institutions optimize the benefits to be derived from the creative integration of intellectual perspectives or related domains of work, they create important opportunities for making progress on some of the most important scientific, technological, and educational challenges of our time. On individual campuses across the nation, for example, significant synergistic potential can be ignited when scholars and educators in related disciplines to work together. Similarly, NSF awardees can harness new synergies by working together with other NSF-funded projects on their own campus or in close geographic proximity. When the results of these synergies are both compatible with and beneficial for the institution(s) involved, successful innovation can be created [i]. Past efforts at integration have shown that opportunities for synergy can be created most successfully when collaborative projects include:
- Clear support from senior administrators;
- A cogent plan of action that includes expectations and staff development;
- Open cross-institutional dialogue that is supported and encouraged;
- A common campus-wide vision and value system that stresses the importance of synergistic efforts;
- The formation of a campus network with a set of individuals who take ownership and provide leadership for the initiative [ii].
The campus network is an important aspect of successful collaboration at every stage of development and is critical to the sustainability and enhancement of created partnerships as well as the institutionalization of new innovations. This network can (a) foster communication across the campus to encourage the formation and dissemination of new ideas, values, and learning; (b) serve as a source of leadership to promote and carry out integrative activities; and (c) develop and sustain existing connections while continually expanding collaborative efforts [iii].
Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) challenges faculty, administrators and others in institutions to think strategically about the creative integration of NSF-funded awards towards a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. Although there is particular emphasis in I3 on awards managed by programs in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), institutional integration is not limited only to EHR awards but can include other NSF awards with a STEM educational focus. Two or more institutions in geographic proximity might, for example, partner to bridge existing NSF-funded awards on their campuses (e.g., RDE, IGERT, LSAMP, ATE, CREST, REU) to broaden participation in STEM fields and enhance undergraduate research opportunities. Additional connections might be made internationally with faculty or students outside the United States who would add their considerable intellectual and cultural perspectives. As another example, an institution might implement new policies, procedures, or mechanisms that encourage and value synergistic efforts among existing NSF-funded awards (e.g., GK-12, MSP, Noyce, REESE, DRK-12) and with other institutional units to better understand and enhance seamlessness across critical educational junctures, perhaps infusing innovative approaches to cyber-learning.
This effort has the following interrelated goals:
- Increase synergy and collaboration across NSF-funded projects and within/between institutions, towards an educational environment where artificial boundaries are significantly reduced and the student experience is more fully integrated;
- Expand and deepen the impact of NSF-funded projects and enhance their sustainability;
- Provide additional avenues to broaden participation through workforce development, especially for those underrepresented in STEM research and education; attend to seamless transitions across critical educational junctures; and/or provide more effectively for a globally engaged workforce;
- Promote innovative programming, policies, and practices to encourage the integration of STEM research and education; and
- Encourage STEM educational or related research in domains that hold promise for promoting intra- or inter-institutional integration and broader impacts.
Proposals that facilitate either (a) inter-institutional or (b) intra-institutional efforts are encouraged. Proposals may be submitted by (a) a single institution to address intra-institutional goals only or (b) an institution acting on behalf of an institutional partnership to address inter-institutional goals. Proposals are expected to incorporate a depth and quality of creative, coherent, and strategic actions that extend beyond commonplace approaches to normal institutional operations. Proposals may also be submitted for research on institutional integration or other closely related themes articulated in the goals above.
I3 is a cross-divisional effort in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). For Fiscal Year 2009, proposals are being solicited in nine EHR programs that advance I3 goals: CREST, GSE, HBCU-UP, ITEST, LSAMP, MSP, Noyce, RDE, and TCUP. All proposals submitted to I3 through these programs have a common due date and will be reviewed in competition with one another.
[i] Levine, A. (1980). Why Innovation Fails. New York: State University of New York Press. Pg. 160.
[ii] Kezar, A. (2003). Enhancing Innovative Partnerships: Creating a Change Model for Academic and Student Affairs Collaboration. Innovative Higher Education 28(2): 137-156.
[iii] Kezar, A. (2005). Redesigning for Collaboration within Higher Education Institutions: An Exploration into the Developmental Process. Research in Higher Education 46(7): 831-860.