Conference Theme

Creativity, Criticality and Conformity in Higher Education

The definition of creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, and interpretations.

Universities should surely be creative places. The economic, political and social climate that universities work in across the world present challenges to this. In many cultures there is an emphasis on measurable, economic outcomes. Does this have to result in policy that emphasises only some parts of the work that universities do, obscuring important activities that often develop and thrive at the margins, or in the spaces between traditional functions?

It could be argued that higher education researchers too draw on an increasingly limited range of methodologies, approaches and ideas that are often not persuasive to policy makers. Have we, in search of measurability and academic respectability, retreated to a dull conformity where anything different is just too risky?

Should we instead challenge ourselves to transcend traditional rules, build an innovative culture and practice of research and problem solving, in order to throw light onto the shadows rather than ignore them? What is it we need to know more about in universities in relation to their role in the world, their place for social good and the building of global diverse societies? How can higher education researchers be creative in their approaches to illuminate these areas, and to make a positive difference in the world?

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