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TEDxDirigo: RISE State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Alan Lishness Indigenous Innovation: How Small Places can Change the World

  • 2011

Alan Lishness serves as Chief Innovation Officer for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, where he has been employed since 1988. His responsibilities include the design, funding and implementation of innovative programs that utilize computing and communications technologies to engage middle-school students and build learning communities. Since 1993, he has served as a Principal Investigator for programs funded by NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and presently serves as a Co-investigator for a research project in Coupled Natural and Human Systems funded by the National Science Foundation.

He is particularly interested in working with others to design and implement new methods and practices that engage Maine students in critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communications. His thinking is informed by current educational practice in Finland, a country that bears startling similarities to Maine. Teachers there are well prepared to teach, held in high professional esteem and granted autonomy in their classrooms. Finnish students typically outperform their peers from thirty-three other countries in reading, mathematics and science.

Alan grew up in Brunswick, and graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in English and Religion. Prior to joining GMRI, he held marketing and senior management positions in technology-based start-ups and not-for-profit organizations in Maine. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine, Greater Portland Landmarks, Ram Island Dance Company and The Maine Festival, and the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Maine Space Grant Consortium and the Waterfront Alliance. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Law and Innovation and the Cape Elizabeth Energy Committee. Outside of work, he enjoys family travel, endurance sports car racing and making things from obsolete industrial artifacts.