Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Please Welcome Our New Director's Fellows

Everywhere I travel, I meet people who are doing groundbreaking, game-changing work in the most creative and innovative ways, from learning and education, to art and music, to activism, to sports, science, and film--and everything in between! There are people all over the world with less-than-traditional backgrounds (like me!) who would be great additions to the Media Lab community. We wanted to create a program to loop them in.

Our new Director's Fellows initiative creates a way for these extraordinary individuals to take part in Media Lab research alongside our faculty and students. We're bringing a cohort of characters from a broad range of sectors and geographies to join us in doing collaborative research and to expand our growing global community. The fellows will not only work with the Lab's students and faculty, but also with each other.

The first group of fellows includes:

  • Director/producer J. J. Abrams;
  • Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley;
  • Fashion designer Christopher Bevans;
  • Nairobi-based technologists/activists David Kobia and Juliana Rotich;
  • Open education advocate Philipp Schmidt;
  • Detroit community activist Shaka Senghor;
  • Maker movement advocate Jeff Sturges; and
  • Author and comedian Baratunde Thurston.

At the Media Lab, inventing the future is our focus. Moving forward, I believe a lot of that invention will come from sharing ideas and creating community. Over the past year or so, we’ve been working hard to come up with new, creative ways to do that. The fellows initiative is one way to open up the Lab up to the world, which will benefit both the fellows and the Lab community tremendously.

What all the fellows have in common is that they’re leaders in their fields, and that they embody the Lab's uniqueness, impact, and magic. They're also all passionate about collaborating with the Lab. You should never be able to guess who the next new fellow will be by looking at the current roster.

We’re really looking forward to the unexpected twists and turns these collaborations will take. Stay tuned!

P.S. A few people have mentioned that there is only one woman in the first cohort. We'll have a much better balance when we add the next batch.

Joi Ito is Director of the MIT Media Lab.