2016-17 Creativity

Creativity, the Arts and Civic Life

Author Robert Fulghum has observed that when children are in kindergarten, they all say that they can draw, sing, dance and act. Studies have shown that people’s willingness to engage in the arts and to be creative can decrease dramatically as we get older. Yet we all know that to address our world’s pressing challenges, we need to think creatively, to imagine new possibilities, to see in surprising ways.

During this year we explored the role of creativity and the arts in civic engagement. Certainly a particular focus on fine arts and aesthetics was important in our conversation. For example, in what ways should a discussion about beauty enter into our civic discourse? Who controls the power to define what is “art” or what is aesthetically pleasing? How have particular social change movements been influenced by the arts — and art affected by the controversies of its era?

In addition, we explored how creativity and the imagination infuse all disciplines. For instance, how does an appreciation of beauty shape our interactions with other humans and the natural world? How might creativity be nurtured and applied to seemingly intractable problems, such as our fear of people different from us or global responses to climate change or ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine? More broadly, how can we, whatever our academic discipline, unleash our creative gifts for the purposes of God’s universal kingdom?

Summer reading text 

  The summer reading text was Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein.






Julie Burstein, Opening Convocation speaker Peabody Award-winning producer, TED speaker and consultant Julie Burstein, author of the first-  year student summer reading assignment "Spark: How Creativity Works," spoke at the Opening  Convocation ceremony.
Opening Convocation followup >



Phil Sugden, assistant professor of art at Bluffton University A teaser for a documentary was shared during the Jan. 24 Forum at Bluffton University. Written,  directed and produced by Phil Sugden, assistant professor of art at Bluffton University, and Carole  Elchert, assistant professor of communication at the University of Findlay, the documentary explores the role of art as a form of activism. more >



Dr. Jeff Gundy, Professor of English  How do you encapsulate an idea as abstract as beauty? According to Dr. Jeff Gundy, professor of  English at Bluffton University, beauty "does not respond well to mere reason." However, during his  Civic Engagement Forum titled, "Field Notes on Beauty," Gundy explained that beauty, though  abstract and unrestricted, can be captured through ideas, images, poems and songs. Civic Engagement Day Forum followup >