Creativity is everywhere in current dialogue – leaders and thinkers across disciplines are calling for greater creativity in education, entrepreneurship, social change, urban planning, and so on. But what does that mean? Creativity is a word that can be difficult to pin down. As new conceptions of innovation shape approaches to higher education, programs and units centered on creativity are popping up on diverse campuses. In many cases, this focus on creativity manifests itself in arts integration programs, the incorporation of fields like design and entrepreneurship into university offerings, and wider movements toward interdisciplinary projects. These projects are incredibly exciting and present new ways of learning, thinking, and doing. But it’s important not to stop there. If we push the current focus on creativity, we can gain important insight into the conceptions of creativity and creative processes that shape work across universities and beyond.

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts—our home and a creative hub of Brown.

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts—our home and a creative hub of Brown.

At Brown, the Creative Mind Initiative is described as “a continuation of the conversations that began with the New Curriculum almost 40 years ago.” This description highlights the range of creative processes and the traditions of interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration that have long existed at Brown—while the nature of the word “creativity” might make programs like Creative Mind seem a mere trend, the approaches and practices the initiative encompasses stem from a much deeper history of thinking, working, and collaborating. We are eager to explore this context for creativity, at Brown and beyond. How do people throughout the university and in the surrounding community conceptualize and practice creativity? What happens when people from different disciplines seek to define creative practices or negotiate ways of approaching problems together? In a time when creativity can be easy to see as a buzzword, how do we incorporate philosophy, pedagogy, and process into our discussions and our work?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll be exploring in our weekly Creative Scholars Project meetings, on this blog and elsewhere. Our hope is that driving dialogue and “connecting the constellations” of people working creatively, as Brown Creative Arts Council Director Richard Fishman puts it, will help advance critical, nuanced consideration of creativity in the university and the public.

Photo credit: David Deckey, the Brown Daily Herald.