When iSchool Ph.D. student Charis Asante-Agyei was an undergraduate at SUNY Korea, he saw a socio-technical economy that he wanted to bring to other parts of the world.
“South Korea used to be a war-torn country, but they transformed their economy and standard of living by implementing socio-technical practices,” he said. “I’m originally from Ghana, and once I saw what they were doing in Korea, I wanted to bring those innovative practices there and to other parts of the world.”
Asante-Agyei received his Bachelor’s degree in Technology Management and his Master’s degree in Technological Systems Management from Stony Brook University but spent his time studying at the SUNY Korea campus. He chose to spend his undergraduate years in South Korea because of his interest in the context of Korean economic development.
After graduating, Asante-Agyei enjoyed the school so much that he stayed for a year working in IT. Another favorite aspect of studying at SUNY Korea was hearing from guest lectures who talked about the role of digital technologies in South Korea’s economic development. Through this experience, he learned about the iSchool, as one of his freshman year professors was a graduate of the iSchool. When Asante-Agyei decided to pursue a Ph.D., he knew that the iSchool was the place he wanted to be.
“My experiences in Korea led me to explore an interdisciplinary approach to technology at the iSchool,” he said. “My current interest is in the future of work and entrepreneurship. The digital future is always changing, and people have to be entrepreneurs to keep up.”
While Asante-Agyei hasn’t yet decided on his final dissertation topic as a second-year Ph.D. student, he is currently leaning toward research on the future of work. In the meantime, he now works in two research labs at the iSchool. One focuses on human-computer interaction, and the other on persuasion techniques and machine learning. Outside of research, he serves on the doctoral program admissions committee, is a representative for BASIC religious programs, and is a member of AGSN, the African Graduate Student Network.
Asante-Agyei is also part of an NSF-funded research project that studies how independent workers manage their work and non-work contexts. The project is a collaboration between researchers at Syracuse University and University of California-Irvine and is focused on analyzing the changes in the work-life balance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I love the collegiate environment of the iSchool. It definitely deserves a shout-out. I recommend the program here to anyone because the areas of research cut across multiple disciplines, and it is a very relevant school that prepares students to integrate their research wherever they go,” Asante-Agyei said.
He also stated that he is grateful for the faculty at the iSchool who have made his time such a wonderful experience. While studying can be challenging, he noted, having a supportive environment makes the journey better.
Asante-Agyei expects to complete his Ph.D. in 2024 and afterward hopes to work for a university to help students. As he focuses on the future of work, he wants to work in a role where he can prepare students to be successful in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous future. Eventually, he wants to expand his career to helping cities and firms face the challenge of needing to be entrepreneurial to survive.
“People are creative by nature,” he said. “I want to explore what people do when they create new products and firms, as well as why and how they do what they do.”