Recognizing the complex challenges facing society today, Centre College provides students with the creative thinking skills needed to develop effective and innovative approaches. To meet this need and better prepare students for lives of learning, leadership and service, which is the College’s mission, a long-term quality enhancement plan called Creative Centre has been developed with the goal of enhancing a campus culture that values and practices creative thinking.
It is important to note that the new Creative Centre program is not just about the arts, but rather emphasizing creativity throughout the entire educational experience. Many Centre faculty members and students were involved in developing the project, an important component of the College’s reaccreditation process for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, making the initiative a community-based and comprehensive endeavor. Ultimately, the program will become an integrated part of the Centre Experience, soon as familiar as the Centre Commitment guarantee of study abroad, an internship or research opportunity and graduation in four years.
“Creative Centre offers all members of the campus community an opportunity to develop an understanding of the role creative thinking plays in our personal and professional lives, while also providing opportunities to become more skilled creative thinkers,” Sarah Lashley, co-chair of the Creative Centre Committee and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, explained. “By enhancing our abilities to be creative thinkers, we are better poised to identify and manage the complex problems that we face.”
Creative Centre Goals:
• Centre College will support and enhance a campus culture that values and practices creative thinking.
• Centre College students will develop and understand the habits and skills needed to improve their own process of creative thinking.
• Centre College students will be able to engage effectively, both individually and collaboratively, with complex challenges.
“As a student, I think Creative Centre will impact students in all aspects of our Centre College experience,” Hunt VanderToll ’16 explained. “We are an institution that teaches that opportunities for learning extend far beyond the four walls of the classroom; Creative Centre aims to amplify the critical thinking skills of students to successfully fulfill our mission of learning, leadership and service. Giving students the opportunity to design research projects, plan creative spaces on campus, and take part in interdisciplinary study will create a more engaged and critically thinking student body.
“Every aspect of Creative Centre stays true to our commitment to personal education. Seeking student, faculty, and staff involvement ensures that every step taken is for the benefit of those in the Centre community,” he continued. “There is no single top down approach to creative thinking but a collaborative effort from all involved to enhance our community of critical thinkers and scholars.”
Six initiatives will be implemented as part of Creative Centre, addressing all aspects of life at the College, from classes to co-curricular activities to campus spaces.
Learn, Inquire, and Network at Centre (L.I.N.C.): Students will register for two courses, which are topically linked and taught by faculty members from distinctly different disciplinary backgrounds. Explicitly integrative activities will help them make connections between different disciplines and seemingly disparate ideas, apply their knowledge beyond the classroom and contribute to the creation of a strong learning community.
Creative Thinking Immersion Program (Creative T.I.P.): Working as a team, students will identify a problem or issue that is of interest to them and that they would like to address during the summer months. The students will spend the summer in Danville investigating their topics, collaborating with local businesses and organizations, engaging with experts in the field, and discussing their progress, challenges, and processes with each other. A pair of faculty and/or staff members will be available to advise students throughout the process and participating students will present their work during a fall term presentation open to the community.
Creative Campus: Through a competitive design process, students will have the opportunity to imagine and plan a small number of spaces around campus that reflect and enhance the creative thinking endeavors of students. Design teams will research, collaborate and produce visual communication tools, and consult with approval agencies.
Creative Centre Pedagogy Workshop: Offered biennially, the workshop will allow colleagues to come together with one another, and with a leading expert in creative thinking, to discuss how we can design learning experiences to emphasize creative thinking. Consisting of both joint sessions and breakout groups, workshop participants will have the opportunity to discuss relevant research and current best practices, and begin the redesign process.
Faculty Fellow: The fellow will facilitate campus discussion related to creative thinking pedagogies and his/her research project by organizing seminars or workshops, facilitating learning communities, hosting guest speakers or other means of intentionally and broadly engaging colleagues. The fellow will also disseminate results of the project across the Centre College community, regionally and nationally through publications, white papers, and/or presentations.
Creative Commons Series: Events that will serve as a forum for exploring creative thinking.
Mindy Wilson, assistant director of the Center for Career & Professional Development, said she is excited to see how Creative Centre will impact students in the realm of career preparation. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, she said, employers of recent college graduates report that the top attributes they seek on a candidate’s resume relate to creative thinking, including communication skills, leadership, problem-solving, initiative and adaptability.
“They are looking for candidates who not only are able to learn and contribute quickly, but who can work creatively on their own,” Wilson said. “Creative Centre is poised to prepare our students for lives of creativity, not only in academics but in the work world beyond Centre.”
Visit the Creative Centre website.
by Elise L. Murrell
November 2, 2015