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Advancing the plan (watch VIDEO)

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.

“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.

To download the report, please click: ART-MAKING AND THE ARTS AT RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES



“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. The 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.

ArtsEngine, 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.”

According 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.”

The unprecedented gathering in May 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.

The 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.

Subsequent to the initial May 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.

The group includes large and small, public and private research universities. Participants in the Michigan Meeting and “Art Making and the Arts at Research Universities” report include:

Brown University

Emory University

Indiana University

Iowa State University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ohio State University

Pennsylvania State University

Princeton University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Syracuse University

University of Alabama

University of California at Berkeley, San Diego, and Los Angeles

University of Colorado

University of Florida

University of Illinois — Champaign/Urbana

University of Iowa

University of Michigan

University of Pennsylvania

University of Texas at Austin

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

Vanderbilt University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Washington University

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