Vice Provost for Creative Inquiry
Director of the Mountaintop Initiative
Khanjan Mehta is the inaugural Vice Provost for Creative Inquiry and Director of the Mountaintop Initiative at Lehigh University. Mehta champions the creation of integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurial engagement ecosystems where students, faculty, and external partners come together to increase their capacities for independent inquiry, take intellectual risks and learn from failure, recognize problems and opportunities and effect constructive and sustainable change. Mehta is the prime instigator for four signature academic programs – the Mountaintop Summer Experience, the Global Social Impact Fellowship, the Lehigh Valley Social Impact Fellowship, and the Campus Sustainable Impact Fellowship that engage faculty and students in multi-year impact-focused ventures. In collaboration with the Office of Graduate Student Life and the Center for Career and Professional Development, he developed the Creative Scholarship Institute for PhD students. The Creative Inquiry Faculty Fellowship led by Mehta supports faculty as they integrate project-based and inquiry-driven learning in courses. Across these programs, Mehta expects students to take radical ownership in their projects, and envisions faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible, sustainable impact: impact that concurrently builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly changing world.
In a previous avatar, Mehta was the Founding Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program, Assistant Professor of Engineering Design, and Affiliate Professor of International Affairs at Penn State. HESE is an integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurship program that brings together students and faculty across campus in the rigorous research, design, field-testing, and launch of technology-based enterprises in low- and middle-income countries. Mehta has led technology-based social ventures in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Mozambique and several other countries. These ventures range from telemedicine systems and diagnostic devices to affordable greenhouses, mushroom production systems, and knowledge sharing platforms for self-employed women. Over the last decade, these social ventures have directly impacted the lives of over three million people across 20+ countries.
Mehta’s research interests encompass affordable design; systems thinking; social entrepreneurship pedagogy; agricultural technologies and food value chains (FVCs); global health and telemedicine systems; cellphones, social networks and trust; development ethics and grassroots diplomacy; women in engineering and entrepreneurship; and informal lending systems for micro-enterprises. He has published three books and over 200 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings with ~20 more in the pipeline. Mehta serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and Contributing Editor for the Engineering 4 Change portal. His latest book, Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It), takes a comprehensive look at STEM careers in social innovation and global sustainable development.
Mehta has served on a wide array of university-wide, national, and international committees and taskforces. He has traveled extensively across more than 85 countries and delivered invited talks and keynote speeches at universities and conferences. The HESE program was the recipient of the 2013 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award (Northeast Region) from APLU, 2011 Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program Award from the US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) and was named by Popular Mechanics as one of thirty “Awesome College Labs” across America. While these are good accolades, Mehta’s primary focus is on championing impact-focused education and social ventures that his students are striving to build up to multi-million smile enterprises.
Mehta lives in Coopersburg, PA with his wife, Toral Zaveri, a biomedical engineer who works as a research scientist at OraSure Technologies Inc., his parents, and two daughters, Tashvi and Pranshi.