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ASU's Interplanetary Initiative creates new technological leadership major

The technological leadership program can be completed in three years and will be available in Fall of 2020


"Although students can spread out their class schedules as they wish, the program is designed to be completed in three years." Illustration published on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

Although choosing a major may not be rocket science, ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative will offer a new major that ASU officials hope will prepare students to launch into the professional world.

The Bachelor of Science in Technological Leadership degree is a three-year program where, starting in the Fall of 2020, students will learn problem-solving and leadership skills through both in-person and online classes.

The major is the first degree program to come from ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative, which, according to its website, is a leading space center that aims to build the future of humans in space. The initiative also uses partnerships to progress in space exploration.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the managing director and co-chair of the Interplanetary Initiative, said the program will give students the skill set needed to pursue jobs that may not even exist yet.

“We are in the information age and that has to reflect in the way we’re teaching at universities,” Elkins-Tanton said. “Things like working in a team or giving and taking feedback, those are all necessary skills to have.” 

She said the program was made to prepare students for the technological leadership field and offer a more financially sensible education experience. Although students can spread out their class schedules as they wish, the program is designed to be completed in three years. 

Students enrolled will work with outside businesses through an internship program, which Elkins-Tanton said can be completed over the summer. 

Though technological leadership may not be an entirely new field, this bachelor’s program will look outside of teaching norms. Elkins-Tanton said classrooms will reflect current times through class content and teaching styles. 

“The way we teach traditionally is to create more of an industrial workforce,” Elkins-Tanton said. “Times have changed and we want this program to reflect that.” 

Laura Bidner, an instructor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, said education could greatly benefit from the exploration of what a classroom should look like.

“It’s always a good idea to consider new ways of doing things,” Bidner said. “Flexibility within classroom structure could lead to a better educated public overall.”

Bidner, who teaches an online class, said the online method of teaching has allowed for some experimentation away from the traditional classroom model. 

In an effort to encourage creative problem solving, the technological leadership program will require students to take two classes, “thinking” and “making,” each semester. The classes will push students to propose solutions to research problems and create projects in fields like art and engineering. 

Taryn Struck, manager of marketing and publicity for the Interplanetary Initiative, said now is the perfect time for this major to come to existence. 

“There is a shift happening in the way we educate future learners,” Struck said. “We don’t always know the jobs of tomorrow and we want to give students the skills they need to navigate a work field that might not exist right now.” 

Struck said the internship program, in particular, is a good connector between students and prospective employers. 

“This is a well-rounded program for anybody who wants to get connected to companies and the future technological workforce,” Struck said. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @ReinhartKatelyn on Twitter.

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