Business and education leaders like to talk about how the world’s problems are complex and multifaceted, and require interdisciplinary, advanced problem-solving skills. That argument is often used to explain why the skills like collaboration and communication are so important to foster in today’s students. And while all that’s true, one crucial part of that complexity is often left out — the world needs a diverse group of problem-solvers to truly address the big issues that affect us all.

In her inspiring TED talk, Jedidah Isler describes the “liminal space” she has always occupied as a black woman who dreamed of being a scientist. She didn’t fit nicely into any of the boxes society has created, but it was precisely because her identity is locatedĀ in the in-between spaces that makes her strong and that allows her to offer new perspectives on problems.

“We cannot get to the best possible outcomes for the totality of humanity without precisely this collaboration, this bringing together of the liminal, the differently lived, distinctly experienced and disparately impacted,” Isler said.

As the first woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics in Yale’s 312 year history, Isler is a trailblazer and an incredible role model for everyone, but especially people who feel their identities are liminal.

 

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