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Five Key Lessons From IB 296

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Professor of plant and microbial biology Lewis Feldman has teamed up with Robert Full of Integrative Biology and Drew Isaacs of the Haas School of Business to offer a unique new seminar on bio-inspired design. Examples of this so-called “biomimicry” concept include energy efficient buildings inspired by passive cooling in termite mounds, and wind turbines inspired by the movement of humpback whale fins. Breakthroughs asked the collaborators to share five key lessons they hope will stick with their students — and with you:

  1. Nature has many practical lessons to teach us about how to solve problems—but correctly framing the problem that you want to solve is the key to a successful outcome.
  2. The complexity of nature can be both inspiring and daunting. Understanding some of the principles that unify life forms is essential to applying solutions based on nature.
  3. Innovation is nourished by exposure to disparate ideas and methods.
  4. The range of knowledge required to design and implement a solution based on nature almost always involves many disciplines. Learning the language and work processes of other professional fields will become the norm for most of the professionals of the twenty-first century.
  5. Using nature as a guide to problem-solving is just one tool for innovation, but if applied correctly, it is a powerful resource that can lead to a healthier, more sustainable planet.

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