The Blue Sky Institute

The Blue Sky Institute harnesses the skills and resources of Boise State University to create cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships to positively impact the community’s most entrenched social problems at a systems level. Working across the campus and community through facilitation and evaluation, BSI serves as an honest broker for diverse, and often siloed, stakeholders and as an incubator of new ideas and solutions alongside partners in business, health care, government and non-profit organizations. BSI provides a neutral space where stakeholders, who may have conflicting interests, can gather to discuss common problems and generate intentional solutions.

Boise State University’s Blue Sky Institute, much like the blue sky, represents a “clean slate” with an almost infinite potential for change. Importantly, BSI is role modeling higher education’s responsibility to create positive social and environmental impact in the community, and to ensure that the next generation of leaders across business, government and civil society has the skills, knowledge, and commitment needed to tackle complex and wicked problems. By creating this institute, we now have the opportunity to unleash unlimited collaborative potential to improve the human condition. Many challenges are confronting our region, state, country, and the world that will require large-scale, collaborative efforts to be managed, if not solved. Given the talent pool that exists at Boise State University and in our wider campus and business communities, we believe this new institute will enable us to play a significant role in tackling many of these challenges.

Founded by Deans Ken Petersen and Tim Dunnagan, BSI is a cross-disciplinary effort of the College of Business and Economics, the College of Health Sciences, and the School of Public Service at Boise State University. BSI’s areas of strategic impact currently include:

  1. Mental Health: BSI is facilitating a partnership between Idaho’s two major hospital systems, the Department of Health and Welfare, and other key stakeholders to improve the support and resources available to address mental health crisis in our state.
  2. Pay for Success: BSI is supporting Idaho’s first pay for performance contract related to the achievement of improved early literacy outcomes for children in public elementary schools across the state. This work requires collaboration between LPLC, the Idaho State Department of Education, Idaho School Districts and private investors, and is led by Boise State College of Education, professor Dr. Evelyn Johnson and BSI co-director Dr. Angeli Weller.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Through its Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), BSI is leading efforts to improve strategies and practices within the business community to achieve better diversity and inclusion outcomes in the Treasure Valley. Working to better bridge diverse top talent at Boise State and area employers committed to diversity and inclusion, RBI is recognized as an essential catalyst for economic and cultural success in our community.
  4. Homelessness: BSI supports a university-wide partnership with the Interfaith Sanctuary, a Boise-based homeless shelter benefiting from projects undertaken by students and faculty from the College of Business and Economics, College of Health Sciences, College of Education, College of Engineering and College of Innovation and Design. With a myriad of social issues contributing to housing instability, BSI is also undertaking a benchmarking study, led by our partners in the Idaho Policy Institute, to better identify opportunities for Boise State to invest in homelessness efforts across Idaho’s continuum of care.
  5. Impact Measurement: BSI also supports ongoing efforts to measure the university’s social, environmental and economic impacts through sustainability reporting and community impact assessments completed annually at the college level. Currently, the College of Business and Economics, College of Health Science and School of Public Service are measuring and transparently reporting on their impacts.