Profile overview: Innovator

Innovators build on experiences and disciplinary expertise to approach new situations and circumstances in original ways, are willing to take risks with ideas, and pose solutions. Innovators are original in their thoughts and ask others to view a situation or practice in a new way. Innovators are good decision makers, can create a plan to achieve their goals, and can carry out that plan to its completion. Innovators use their knowledge and skills to address complex problems to make a difference in the civic life of communities and to address the world’s most pressing and enduring issues.

The innovator:


Innovators know how to investigate. They are inquisitive, can carry out research (e.g., fieldwork, international or community based, bench science, humanities, arts, technology, and social science), apply disciplinary expertise, are proactive, can advocate for issues, and work toward building consensus with others.

  • Explore topics in depth
  • Indicate an intense interest in an area; show substantial knowledge and understanding of at least one field of study
  • Reflect on your future self by building on experiences and responding to new challenges
  • Use quantitative data to inform decision making


  • Conduct research, describe, and explain a complex historical event in a coherent manner, employing the conventions and standards of the discipline


  • Identify an area of interest and pursue it with others in a meaningful way toward mastery

Creates and designs

Innovators are original in their thoughts and ask others to view a situation or practice in a new way. They combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways.

  • Use divergent thinking to work in an imaginative way
  • Take risks either personally (in terms of embarrassment or rejection) or risk of failure in going beyond expectations
  • Embrace contradictions
  • Provide novel or unique solutions to a situation
  • Connect, synthesize, or transform ideas into new ones
  • Transfer skills, theories, abilities, and methodologies by adapting or applying to new situations
  • Create knowledge, procedures, processes, or products to discern bias, challenge assumptions, identify consequences, arrive at reasoned conclusions, generate and explore new questions, solve challenging and complex problems, and make informed decisions


  • Create the electronic structure of health data to meet a variety of end user needs


  • Develop a new program for student involvement

Confronts challenges

Innovators confront challenges by building on experiences and disciplinary expertise to approach situations and circumstances in original ways. They use the tools and resources available, are willing to risk failure, and understand that failure is a step on the road to success.

  • Modify an approach to an issue or problem based on the contexts and requirements of particular situations
  • Connect to relevant experiences and academic knowledge across disciplines and perspectives at both local and global levels
  • Integrate communication in ways that enhance knowledge and understanding
  • Envision solutions to global challenges
  • Recognize and effectively manage ambiguous ideas, experiences, and situations
  • Identify and adjust behaviors by applying previously understood information, concepts, and experiences to a new situation or setting


Collaborate with an agency, organization, or external mentor to articulate the ethical implications of such research partnerships and understand the goals of the scholarly project for academics and community partners alike


Use disciplinary knowledge in a co-curricular setting to develop solutions for new applications