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The primary mission of the Biomimicry Center is to enhance the ability to address a variety of sustainability challenges using methodologies inspired by natural systems.
Through research, education and outreach activities, the Center will pursue all eight of the following design aspirations for a New American University, as outlined by ASU president Dr. Michael Crow.
Leverage Our Place: The fundamental goal of biomimicry is to “leverage our place” on the planet conceptually as well as tactically. Biologically inspired design learns from natural systems and from our place on the planet to inspire new sustainable solutions. And the most sustainable solutions for any place-based challenge can be inspired by the adaptations seen in the local biome. The Center, in addition to supporting efforts for anyone, anywhere to leverage their local lessons, will also build on our learning from the Sonoran Desert to inspire local, place-appropriate solutions for Arizona.
Transform Society: By addressing problems of sustainability, the Center will attempt to “transform society” in a positive way. Biomimicry is consistently named as one of the most important directions humanity can take to address the complex societal and environmental issues we face today. Whether it be the education of the students using real-world issues and opportunities, or specifically-directed research and outreach, the activities of the Center will transform society by design.
Conduct Use-Inspired Research: “Use-inspired research” is central to the methodology of biomimicry, as one begins with asking the question: How would nature solve my challenge? In the process of evolution, organisms are constantly tackling problems of survival. Learning from their adaptations to drive human design is fundamental to biomimicry. Therefore the research activities will clearly be “use-inspired.”
Fuse Intellectual Disciplines: The sheer nature of biomimetic thinking requires all efforts to be interdisciplinary in nature. By engaging schools, centers and individuals across the University community and beyond, the Center will “fuse intellectual disciplines.” By bringing biologists, designers, engineers, business professionals, communicators, material scientists, chemists, and other experts together, we can address the system-level opportunities and challenges sustainability demands.
Value Entrepreneurship: The practical applications of biomimicry are grounded in bringing biologically-inspired solutions to the design table. The targeted efforts of the Center will strive to make every educational and research endeavor embed entrepreneurial opportunities for the constituents, whether it be through participation in the Biomimicry Institute design challenges with the incubator phase, or research partnerships that bring research to the designers fingertips through partnerships with Biomimicry 3.8 clients like ESRI or the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. In addition, the Center will engage all entrepreneurship programs at ASU, including the Center for Entrepreneurship and Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Enable Student Success: In order to tackle the complex problems the world faces today, universities need to create graduates who, in addition to their disciplinary skills, want to devote their energy, passion, and dedication to causes that matter. The most sought after graduates are those skilled in systems-thinking, creativity, and interdisciplinary teamwork. By engaging in biomimicry as students, graduates will hone their skills and be ready for 21st century careers.
Be Socially Embedded: ASU has demonstrated that it is deeply committed to sustainability. Some of the most critical problems our planet faces today require social engagement. The Center too, through its core mission, is dedicated to the development of new solutions to tackle problems of social and environmental sustainability. While there are several biologically inspired solutions that scientists and engineers are developing all over the world, not all address problems of sustainability. Our goal is to ensure that the solutions we design and develop through the Center’s activities directly address environmental and social challenges.
Engage Globally: Through the partnership with Biomimicry 3.8, the Center will expand its reach globally, especially through degrees in biomimicry offered through ASUOnline. This is an opportunity which extends biomimicry out to the world and simultaneously brings students from around the world to ASU. These efforts will be further extended through the campus based degrees and concentrations. The education, research and outreach activities will benefit students, faculty and staff and extend ASU’s global reach. There is an increasing interest in biomimicry worldwide, and we will leverage existing ASU international connections as part of this effort.