Montclair State University

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Creative Thinking

Office of Arts and Cultural Programming, Montclair State University

Project Summary

The Creative Thinking project integrates the creative approaches of visiting artists into the intellectual and cultural environment of the campus via the development of a new course designed to help students in all academic areas harness their creative abilities. The Office of Arts and Cultural Programming (ACP), the University’s presenting arm under the banner of Peak Performances, worked in partnership with the Research Academy for University Learning (RAUL), the unit charged with developing deep learning initiatives across campus. Beginning in fall 2010, ACP and RAUL engaged a multidisciplinary faculty Working Group to build and implement a course that would draw on Peak Performances artists and their work as a catalyst for exploring and understanding creative processes across disciplines. The project represents an evolution from engagement with artists on a performance-by-performance basis to a more comprehensive integration into the academic life of the campus. Three artists creating new work co-produced or co-commissioned by Peak Performances were integral to the project: choreographer Wayne McGregor and his company Random Dance, performance/visual artist Robert Whitman, and director Robert Wilson. By opening their creative process, these artists served as a resource during course development, as well as in the classroom and theater. The artists were selected on the basis of their well-established relationships to research, interdisciplinary approaches, and the integration of technology and the arts.

The Creative Thinking course was approved by the University in early 2012, and a pilot version was offered during a four-week Summer Session, May 14-June 7, 2012. Participating artists included director Robert Wilson, choreographer Liz Lerman, and theorist/systems designer Iain Kerr. Dr. Ashwin Vaidya, a physics instructor in the Mathematical Sciences department, led the course, supported by the faculty Working Group. Students came from a variety of majors and departments, including music, theater, biology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, broadcasting, and film.

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