Research universities build argument for greater role for arts, creative thinking

1791

tANN ARBOR — Confronting the challenge of how to encourage and cultivate innovative thinking in higher education, administrators from some of the most prestigious U.S. research universities have published a report aiming to provoke a national discussion about the ways "arts practice" can be a catalyst for creative thinking in all academic disciplines.

t"Art-Making and the Arts at Research Universities," a three-year plan, is the result of nearly a year of discussions and research with the goal of further integrating the arts into higher education curriculum and campus life.

t"While creative processes across fields have a great deal in common, creative process in the arts tends to be more radically open-ended, more immediately immersive, and more hands-on and experiential," said Theresa Reid, executive director of ArtsEngine, an University of Michigan consortium to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts.

tThe group includes U-M's School of Music, Theatre & Dance, School of Art and Design, College of Engineering, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, and U-M Libraries.

tArtsEngine, which itself is an innovative initiative to recast the relevancy and role of the arts in higher education, is the principal coordinator of "Art-Making and the Arts at Research Universities."

tAccording to the report's executive summary: "Integrating art-making and the arts enables the university to fulfill its responsibility to society by producing new generations of leaders who are adept in the use of all of their creative cognitive faculties, and by producing an incubator for original creative work in the arts that is not constrained by market economies. Only the university can fulfill this vital social role."

tThe unprecedented gathering in March of administrators to discuss a greater role for arts focused on ways to increase "arts making" as a fundamental way to inspire creativity. In contrast to "arts appreciation," which can be a passive observant enjoyment of the visual and performing arts, "arts making" is the active and thoughtful engagement in creating art. It is the learning of craft along with the developing skills of self-expression.

tThe rationale in the report addresses central challenges facing higher education institutions. Amid the lingering economic slump, tough job market and educational needs for students to cope with ever-changing opportunities, universities are rethinking how to prepare students for an uncertain economic landscape. Fostering creative thinking is a broad skill, and until now, hasn't been formally addressed as a specific educational goal.

tSubsequent to the initial March gathering – known as the Michigan Meeting – four groups of higher education administrators set out to gather research, develop curricular models and programming, and formulate an advocacy strategy.

tThe group includes large and small, public and private research universities.

tParticipants in the Michigan Meeting and "Art Making and the Arts at Research Universities" report include:

    t
  • ttBrown University
  • t

  • ttEmory University
  • t

  • ttIndiana University
  • t

  • ttIowa State University
  • t

  • ttMassachusetts Institute of Technology
  • t

  • ttOhio State University
  • t

  • ttPennsylvania State University
  • t

  • ttPrinceton University
  • t

  • ttRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • t

  • ttSyracuse University
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Alabama
  • t

  • ttUniversity of California at Berkeley, San Diego, and Los Angeles
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Colorado
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Florida
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Illinois — Champaign/Urbana
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Iowa
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Michigan
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Texas at Austin
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Vermont
  • t

  • ttUniversity of Virginia
  • t

  • ttVanderbilt University
  • t

  • ttVirginia Commonwealth University
  • t

  • ttWashington University

tRepresentatives from the Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts also participated.

Facebook Comments