With technology changing at an exponential rate, jobs disappearing, and the barrage of information available to students it seems our approach to preparing students for the future requires global thinking that enhances and sustains the value of an undergraduate degree. This QEP proposal suggests that Millsaps College capitalize on the research done at Vanderbilt University and implement an initiative that identifies Millsaps College as a "Creative Campus." To justify the price-tag of higher education it is essential to devise a compelling way to engage the next generation of students who currently (and wrongly) believe the road to success is paved with nothing more than enhanced standardized test scores. Much more will be needed however - creativity and problem-solving skills. The small liberal arts environment is the perfect environment to establish a structure that integrates creativity across the curriculum. At the core of this initiative is the idea of collaborative thinking without disciplinary or departmental boundaries, focused on problem-solving and opportunity creation. It suggests we find a way to educate towards creativity to stimulate a love for learning, a curiosity and joy for human interaction, and the ability to push through boredom and engage the mind on a higher level!
It is our task to identify a structure that opens doors to new ways of thinking, enhances interdepartmental understanding, and revalues the undergraduate degree in a way that benefits every single person at Millsaps College, as well as support the overall College mission.
As a reference point I am including research done by Dr. Steven Trip as outlined in his article "The Creative Campus: Who's No. 1?":
" ... creativity reflects those activities that involve the application of intellectual energies to the production of new ways of solving problems (as in science and mathematics) or of expressing ideas ... Creativity is not simply about self-expression. It is about producing something new (or combining old elements in new ways) to advance a particular field or add to the storehouse of knowledge."
Dr. Trip continues with the following necessary elements essential to the development of an environment that stimulates creativity:
1. There must be a focus on the structural conditions for creativity, rather than particular teaching and learning styles, stressing the importance of collaboration
2. Creativity flourishes in diverse environments where there are adequate opportunities for cross-cultural exchange.
3. Creativity is stimulated by interdisciplinary exchange.
4. Creative work takes time and resources.
5. Creativity requires an environment that tolerates and even encourages failure.
The establishment of our "Creative Campus" could revitalize and provide the foundation to develop the gift of the human imagination. Based on the model of a "think tank," the Creative Campus initiative could create an infrastructure that engages students, enhances interdepartmental relationships, and redefines our place in the world of producing great thinkers. The think tank would accept and consider proposals on specific issues and problems to be solved, seek global input to creatively address the problems, and engage students (and other campus community members) in implementing those solutions. This creative, problem-solving, and project based proposal would help prepare the next generation of leaders by stimulating curiosity, training them in specific skills, and strengthening the value of liberal arts education.
Contact person: Jeannie-Marie Brown
For a PDF of the proposal, click here.
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