Societal changes call for new ways to conceptualise, address and enact education and research within the university, and creative innovations at individual, collective, organisational, and institutional levels become critical. In the development of knowledge economies, a discourse of creativity constitutes a change of educational and research-related understanding of the development of societies, competitiveness, and social change. But what is a ‘creative university’? A university is a place where education and research take place – but what makes these two core activities creative? If knowledge is regarded as human social and intellectual capital, and universities expect to develop this capital, it becomes relevant to focus on how to foster creativity and knowledge cultures that can respond to this inherently complex problem. This conference is concerned with explicating and examining how universities might respond to this challenge.
Education in the creative university can be seen as building knowledge cultures that include both the playfulness and the emotional and creative dimensions of learning. These creative dimensions might, for example, involve students and teachers experimenting with the construction of knowledge, new ways of assessing teaching/learning and research. Further, building such knowledge cultures relies on learning environments and organisational structures that are fundamentally challenging as well as supportive, with equitable opportunities and recognition of the complexities arising in diverse learners and learning styles .
The concept of the creative university responds to a growing world-wide interest in teaching methods and pedagogies that develop students’ innovative and creative thinking, where students as well as teachers are expected to break with habitual actions and thought. When separating innovation from creativity, creative efforts are often seen as self-expressive and intrinsically motivated, and they distinguish creativity from innovation by suggesting that the former is driven by intrinsic motives, whereas the latter is driven by extrinsic incentives and by the need to surpass previous standards . This not only situates the creative university within dominant contemporary economic, outcomes-focused ideologies, but it indicates that emotions are linked to creativity, and in that respect it emphasizes the crucial importance of emotions in the design of innovative learning processes – for students as well as teachers.
This vision of emotions and creativity as critical elements in teaching/learning positions the university as formal and informal, flexible and responsive, and open to diverse, innovative, and exploratory constructions and approaches to diverse knowledges. A creative university then must balance both playfully wild, uncontrollable processes of idea generation, as well as rituals, traditions, histories and other already valued understandings of development, learning and knowledge. This vision for the creative university then involves teachers/learners in a reflexive social, organisational and cultural stock-take and opportunities for change, through emotional, innovative knowledge cultures.
In addition to the above, this Creative University Conference draws on the special character of Aalborg University. A strong focus on student-defined and constructed, problem-based learning and research are a defining element in the pedagogies and research throughout the University. Crossing disciplinary and paradigmatic boundaries, it holds the potential for fresh, innovative solutions to contemporary concerns. A particular feature of this approach is the engagement of students in the identification of pressing problems, and their responses to these problems through collaborative research and assessment. That this approach has arisen in Denmark, and has widely influenced educational thinking in the past 30 years, creates a fitting historical backdrop for extending these dialogues through this conference.
The conference is held at Rendsburggade 14, 9000 Aalborg. It is under Aalborg University's section in Aalborg - not to be confused with the section in Esbjerg or Copenhagen. Getting to and from Aalborg is easy, and more information about it can be found at Visit Aalborg.