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Creativity in Higher Education: a non-scientific view of developing creativity

Andrea I. Frank
Fred Buining

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Professional role models are constantly shifting and adapting to the employment market. An emerging theme throughout many professions is a demand for empowered individuals who are able to think creatively, develop collaboratively and design novel solutions to address the complex and pressing problems threatening society today including, for example, climate change, sustainability, racism, terrorism and poverty. The field of urban planning is no exception. Mere knowledge of planning control (processes) and administration is deemed insufficient, and professional institutions and experts are challenging educators in the field to focus more on leadership, visionary development and creativity. In order to facilitate creativity and leadership development we believe that students need to be confronted with a learning experience that differs from that offered by a traditional Higher Education degree programme.
     Naturally, the development of such capacities requires certain changes and adjustments in the curriculum. Introducing any significant modification in established programmes and curricula represents a challenging organisational culture change, which typically involves a long-term and sustained programme of intervention in which there is time and opportunity for staff to learn, experiment with and adopt new teaching ideas. In a nonconformist collaboration of a junior lecturer and an expert creativity consultant introducing creativity development in teaching, old and new techniques and approaches are used which question established models of teaching and creativity.
     This paper first highlights important elements of the authors’ vision of a structure and programme in planning education that fosters students’ creativity. In particular, the vision embraces two areas of creativity development: “empowered leadership” and “intelligence in urban planning”. The second part of the paper will examine the implementation of the interventions and tools. We will describe the initial steps taken toward changing the learning environment and developing a creative culture and creative abilities of students in an undergraduate city and regional planning degree course at a major research university in the UK. We conclude by sharing findings from our first three years of collaboration, discussing different pedagogical experiments and variations of interventions and elaborate on the planned activities in the coming years.

Author Bio(s)

Andrea Frank
Andrea Frank lectures at the School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University and pursues development work at the interdisciplinary Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Education in the Built Environment (CEBE). In her latter role, she collects good practice in teaching and learning, disseminates pedagogical research findings relevant to all Built Environment disciplines and organises workshops and conferences for the Centre, to help educational planners develop more creative approaches to curriculum design.

Fred Buining
Much of Fred Buining’s work involves helping organisations embrace change and develop new products, business processes and markets. Creativity and creative thinking techniques are part of his daily toolbox. As a visiting lecturer at the MBA in Berlin, he teaches organisational transformation. At the MBA in Maastricht, he is responsible for the personal and leadership development of student executives. He is part of the Change Academy, which facilitates organisational change teams in higher education.