Innovation Hub Innovation Hub features today's most creative thinkers - from authors to researchers to business leaders. It explores new avenues in education, science, medicine, transportation, and more. Guests have included Michael Pollan, Sal Khan, Marissa Mayer, Clayton Christensen, Jared Diamond, Paul Farmer, Sherry Turkle, and Brian Greene.
Innovation Hub

Innovation Hub

From WGBH Radio

Innovation Hub features today's most creative thinkers - from authors to researchers to business leaders. It explores new avenues in education, science, medicine, transportation, and more. Guests have included Michael Pollan, Sal Khan, Marissa Mayer, Clayton Christensen, Jared Diamond, Paul Farmer, Sherry Turkle, and Brian Greene.

Most Recent Episodes

How to Beat Burnout

In Japanese, the word "karoshi" translates to "death by overwork." As reports of workplace burnout have skyrocketed since the pandemic, it's a phrase that aptly encapsulates a feeling that thousands of workers have experienced over the past year. But the issue is neither temporary nor solely catalyzed by the pandemic; instead, we face a long-term health risk with rippling impacts. This is the argument put forth by Jennifer Moss, a journalist and author of the forthcoming book "The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It." Moss notes that while burnout has been experienced "since building the pyramids," there is something distinct about the current wave of workplace stress plaguing our offices. Technology, a pandemic, and a productivity-oriented work culture have combined to create the perfect storm, she says. "Crisis exacerbates an existing problem. Then what happens is it explodes," Moss explains. What's more, she says, it is not something that can be addressed simply by "downstream" efforts like office yoga sessions or even a paid week off. Rather, Moss argues, it requires fundamental, institutional change that prioritizes stress prevention over management.

Climate Migration Is Already Here And It's Going To Get Worse

A migration crisis is already underway, and it's caused, at least in large part, by climate change, according to modeling by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Their expert analysis shows that without the proper preparation and political will, it will worsen as soon as 2050. Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, explains how the increasingly deadly combination of heat and humidity is driving people from their homelands. He predicts greater migratory build-ups along the US-Mexico border, in Southeast Asia, and on North Africa's Mediterranean coast. Even if we develop a strong response now, a "lack of foresight," he argues, has brought us to our current reality: a certain level of climate change is already baked into the system for the next 30 years. Oppenheimer says governments must restructure their thinking around climate change to focus not just on emissions, but also extreme weather response. Plus, we hear from three local reporters at our affiliate stations about the environmental challenges facing their cities. Houston Public Media's Katie Watkins, WJCT's Brendan Rivers in Jacksonville and KJZZ's Ron Dungan in Phoenix, join us to discuss droughts, flooding, land use, and more.

The Amazon Effect

July 2021 is a big month for Amazon's Founder and former CEO, Jeff Bezos. Not only did he step down as CEO of the company he built into a $1.63 trillion empire, he will also fly into space on the first crewed flight of his New Shepard rocket ship. And yet, the space trip is just the most recent of Bezos' boundary-breaking endeavors. Bezos and his company have revolutionized American business, extending their reach into nearly every industry— from retail, to media, to healthcare, and cloud computing. Brad Stone—the author, most recently, of Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire—explains that the e-commerce giant has often seemed "unbound from the laws of corporate gravity." While most companies eventually plateau, Stone says that Amazon has defied these business norms by continuing to grow rapidly. Stone, a Senior Executive Editor at Bloomberg News with years of experience reporting on the company, examines Amazon's various successes and Bezos' sweeping influence. Specifically, he traces Bezos' transformation from a frugal tech nerd to a buff billionaire whose high-profile divorce made headlines. But what exactly accounts for Amazon's extraordinary rise? If there is one thing that drives Bezos, Stone points out, it's his deep fear of stasis.

To Rethink the Constitution

The Constitution, first drafted in 1787, stands as the supreme law of the land in the U.S. But Mary Anne Franks — a law professor at the University of Miami who grew up attending a fundamentalist church in Arkansas — says that often "we read it not as a text but as Scripture," much in the same way she was taught to read the Bible as a child. Franks, author of The Cult of the Constitution, argues that originalism — the judicial view that the Constitution should only be interpreted as its writers meant it to be when it became law — has been used to justify ahistorically broad interpretations of both the First and Second Amendments. Rather than claiming "transcendental access" to the founders' legal intentions, she proposes we honor the Constitution communally by extending its rights and values to all, including the most vulnerable members of our society.

A Learning Revolution for a Post-Pandemic World

School is out for the summer, but many students, educators and parents are still reeling from an earthquake in K-12 education. It will take time to recover from learning loss, fractured relationships, stress and other problems caused or exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, as we emerge from crisis mode, some see a chance to transform American education for the better. Paul Reville, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, and Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education for President George W. Bush, dive into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. While Sal Khan, founder and CEO of the online learning platform Khan Academy, and a handful of parents consider the possibilities that come with an educational landscape no longer bound by time and space.

The Death Grip of Email

Constantly checking your email might feel like textbook responsible work behavior but, according to Cal Newport — a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of A World Without Email — it can actually wreak havoc on productivity. Newport argues that our out-of-control inboxes are keeping us from being the thinkers, workers, and problem solvers we could be if email ran our lives less.

Inventing Latinos

On the 2020 U.S. census, Americans faced five options: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. These might have reflected a broad swath of the population, but for citizens from any of the dozens of countries south of the United States, there was a pretty obvious choice missing: Latino. Laura Gómez, a law professor at UCLA and the author of "Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism," argues that Latinos – both the word and the ethnic category – are pretty recent inventions. The government only officially recognized it in the 1980s, and acknowledging people from Central and South America as a distinct ethnic group was a paradigm shift with real social and political impact. The question of Latinos' race has affected issues from marriage laws, to access to education, and beyond. Plus, Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a political strategist and commentator, says that Latinos are not only changing as an identity, but also as a voting bloc. Latino is a term used to describe as many as 60 million people from dozens of places and a multitude of ways of becoming American. Some have been on U.S. soil for generations, some crossed the border, and some had the border cross them. Just as in any other large, diverse group, there is a full spectrum of political identities, so to court the so-called "Latino vote" is a big ask, she says.

What's The Point of Exercise?

Exercise is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, it's difficult to imagine a caveman on a treadmill. And it's safe to say that paleolithic humans never pumped iron. But something changed as we moved from the plow to the Peloton. Exercise - physical exertion for the purpose of improving health or fitness - became a huge part of modern life, and a nearly $100 billion global industry. But why do we spend so much time and money at the gym or on the track and does it actually help our well-being? And why is exercise, at least for some of us, such a miserable experience? Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and author of the book "Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding," has some fascinating answers.

To Crack the Code of Wall Street

Have you ever wanted to be rich? Really rich? Gregory Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of "The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution," shares the story of the mathematicians who cracked Wall Street's code. Starting from humble beginnings in a strip mall on Long Island, NY, the hedge fund company that Simons started (where about 300 people work today) now pulls in more money in a year than companies like Hasbro and Hyatt Hotels, which have tens of thousands of employees.

A Goodbye To Language As You Know It

It seems like every time a dictionary publishes a new update, people flock to social media to talk about it. Whether they're responding to the addition of the word "fam" or the dad joke, They always return to the question of what consequences these additions will have. Do they really spell disaster for the English language? Turns out, the "updation" (new to the Oxford English Dictionary as of last year) of language isn't necessarily a bad thing. And it's been going on for as long as language has existed. Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, explains why the creation of new words is actually natural, and tells us how the ways we communicate have been speeding up the evolution of language.