Senator Spotlight October 2022

Name: Timiebi Aganaba

What unit do you represent?  

The School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Global Futures

How many years have you served in the Senate? 

This is my second year

How many years have you been employed at ASU?

Four years

What other institutions have you taught at before coming to ASU?

I was a teaching associate at the International Space University, France

What is your research and/or creative activities focus?  

My work on space law, strategy and governance can be summarized by a quote by Joey Eschrich and Ed Finn of the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination.

“Space is not a void but a canvas for human imagination. The questions of policy and logistics are scaffolding for a much deeper set of questions about who we are and who we want to become as a species. We explore the universe because we are curious—not just about what we’ll find out but also about what that knowledge will do to us, and how we will grow to match our expanding sphere of action and understanding”.

Let’s break this down! Science and Technology helps us see the world differently because we are constantly looking for discoveries, optimization and innovation. While we can look inwards to find our imagination, its usually through community, sharing and hearing other people’s ideas, viewpoints, and world views that we can refine our own thinking, see the world in a different way and then develop the muscle that is our imagination! Central to this are the ideas of embracing and not being ashamed to acknowledge our ignorance, failures and blind spots, which starts with deep self- awareness and a growth mindset. Students and faculty at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, center the societal impacts and implications of technology and while we are excited about the future and what these technologies can do for the greater good, our work and teaching shines a light on the areas, perspectives and issues that are often neglected in technological futures.  We are the home for responsible and sustainable innovation.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Senate?

I am an international lawyer, strategist, and governance expert in space futures. But how can I model what future societies in space should look like, if I cannot even impact the governance of the very place, I spend the majority of my time? Many people have bold visions of the way things should be, over there, without first asking, how do I impact my immediate environment? My mantra therefore is “Think global: act local”!

But on a very practical level, President Crow said it best in a recent interview when he was asked the hardest part of his work.  HE SAID, Individual selfishness. “why don’t you advance the institution and then your career will advance as a function of that… your own outcome is too narrow of a conceptualization. And so the hardest thing is getting people to work as a team, getting people to pull together, getting people to recognize each other.”

This is powerful statement, and a testament to the fact that teamwork is in fact what makes the dream work. As Africans we say, if you want to go fast think of yourself but if you want to go far, go together.

Describe what you have learned during your time in the Senate.

The invited guests to the Senate meetings have helped us to see just how disconnected the dominant narratives are from the realities of many of the issues facing our students, faculty, and staff. A great example is how many people think that money is a significant barrier to attending ASU. Yes, this is true and there is a lot of work we have to do here, but there are many programs available to low income families that we are not doing enough to get the word out and communicate, such as the Arizona Promise Program, which is a “guaranteed” scholarship program. One of the reasons though is that society are not doing enough to really understand the situation of those who have felt excluded from formal education. ASU is better than many places because our charter clearly directs us to measure ourselves not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include and how they succeed; advance research and discovery of public value; and assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities we serve. That said, we must recognize that a mission and charter is one thing, and the reality of its implementation is another, but I still think that in the 4 years I have been here, I have seen more people attempt to live up to that vision, than not!

What committees have you participated in, or would like to participate in and what were you able to (or hope to) accomplish? 

I appreciate that the theme of the senate this year is on “Community”. While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts self-actualization at the apex, a self-actualized person in isolation will have no impact on the greater good. So, I think about collective actualization as my end goal. I am trying to understand what the collective vision is of the senate and what I need to do to help us get to that vision that we collectively determine.  I am open to that discussion.

What would you say to your peers who might be considering accepting a nomination or nominating himself or herself for a position in the Senate?

I am yet to see what the down sides are. I am not one that can sit on the sidelines and let others determine my fate. I am not one that will complain about what the “authorities” are not doing if I haven’t volunteered to be part of the decision-making process. Perhaps this is why I went to law school on three different continents. But I recognize that that takes a sense of agency, and self-confidence to even believe that you can affect change, that your perspectives will be taken seriously and a belief that you can write the future. At SFIS, we teach out students that the future is not one thing that can be predicted or that is set. If you have those competencies, then do join the Senate. If you don’t, then prioritize working on that, because then when the time is right, you will make the difference!

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