Creativity and Innovation


Class meets Tuesday 9:25PM - 12:05PM

Sawyer, Rm. 1125

Final Exam:

Thursday 2:00 - 04:30PM, Sawyer, Rm. 1125

Process: A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Epiphany: A moment of sudden revelation or insight.

Course Description

Despite its mystical connotations, creative epiphany is the result of a long engagement with the creative process that results in a surprising and unpredictable understanding of a concept or the solution to a problem—the so called "aha moment". Thomas Edison's famous epigram that "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration", or his lesser known, "Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits," illustrates his recognition of the amount of work and analysis necessary for creative innovation. As often as not, creative epiphany occurs in numerous small ways that cumulatively result in new thinking, rather than one bold insight.

In the way that the discoveries of science are guided by the scientific method, the path to creative innovation is through a directed creative process. There are those creators who say that they "seek" a way to fully realize an already imagined goal, and those who say that they "find" where they are going only through the process of making. However, all creative innovators follow a creative process, whether they are industrial designers or fine artists, performers or inventors, architects or entrepreneurs. The exact steps may differ, but the process is essentially the same.

This course explores how hands-on, collaborative, practical problem solving employing the creative process can become a productive habit of thinking in all aspects of creative work.

Class Structure

This is a two hour and forty minute class that meets once per week. It allows us to do a great deal of "studio-style" work in class, but it may be a new and difficult class format for some of you. There is a great deal of group work in this class. Most classes will be broken into three parts: A warm up, and two parts with a break in the middle. The breaks are no more than ten or twelve minutes, and it is essential that you come back to the class on time. Classes may have a "wrap up" at the end, as well.

It's OK if you need to eat your lunch or a snack during class, but keep your cellphones in your bag, please. Come to class prepared to think and to work.

The Importance of Interdisciplinary Knowledge: Students will be encouraged to do broad research—in the library, on line, from experience in the field, and from each other—to support their thinking. Every major project must be accompanied by a list of resources that were applied to the process.

Collaboration and Working in Groups: The course will rely on collaborative working groups. The groups will change throughout the course, but each group will work together for some time. Basic ground rules for group work will be discussed. Analysis and evaluation of the dynamics of working groups will be ongoing.

There WILL be issues that arise in the groups; there always are. But they must be discussed and worked out, and the projects must be completed. Group work is a major part of this course because it is a major part of creative work. If there is an issue in a group, please come talk with me.

Daily Warm-ups:  Nearly every class will begin with a "10 minute warm-up".  They might be math-related puzzles, visual dilemmas, hands-on modeling problems, drawing/ perception exercises, or written conundrums. All will require "sideways thinking" in order to solve them. All will be relatively quick. Some will be individual, some in groups. Some may require written responses or more extended class discussion. Students may suggest warm-ups in addition to those the professor offers.

Practical Projects:  There will be several practical, hands-on projects to be solved and presented. Work will begin in class and continue outside of class. Several work-in-class days have also been scheduled. The description of the group's creative process is part of the presentation each group will make.

There are materials to work with in the design studio, but groups must discuss their needs with the professor. You are required to provide basic materials and tools for your projects, but some additional things will be available. It may be possible for some work to be done on projects in class, but much work will need to be done outside of school. There are "cubbies" in the design studio for the groups to store their projects. There is no text to buy, but you are expected to purchase any materials you need (beyond the basic ones provided) to complete the projects.

Process and Epiphany