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WATCH: Leveraging the Power of Diversity to Improve Academia and Society

Diversity in academic settings is desirable for its own sake — but using that diversity to address social issues can help improve the world around us, according to Ross School of Business Professor Scott Page.

Page recently gave a plenary address titled “Appreciating and Leveraging the Diversity of Political Science” to the American Political Science Association. A Q&A session followed the prepared talk. The APSA has made the event available on YouTube.

“Diversity is a really good thing, and it’s something that we should appreciate within the profession, but it’s also the case that if the profession wants to contribute to society and have maximal impact, what we need to do is think about ways in which we can leverage that diversity,” Page said in the address. 

The talk covers several different ways to think about the role diversity plays in academic settings. Drawing from research, Page discusses how and why increasing diversity among participants can improve forecasting and other tasks, ultimately moving toward true wisdom. He noted that research shows how a diverse group of people almost always does better on a task than a group of top performers — in some instances, by a wide margin.

“If I really want to move the profession forward, if I want to make this level of contribution, I have to sit down and listen to others, take their perspective, and search for those synergies to make this discipline stronger,” Page concluded.

Page explores some of the themes in his talk in more depth in a book, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. The book was recently praised by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Fast Company.

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