Creativity Across Cultures

  • Dr Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas: Course Leader Access Fashion Business, SMS LCF

Brief description of session and activities

Whilst creativity is heralded as a key skill for 21st century graduates the history of creativity has resulted in multiple understandings of what it is to be creative; diverse educational and social contexts have resulted in conflicting understandings of what it is to be creative. The UK cannot claim to have a consensus on a working definition of creativity, let alone one that encompasses the international nature of a creative education. Creativity does not exist in a vacuum; rather cultural norms determine where creative ideas and products arise and how they are judged (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). Classrooms reflect cultural norms; the internationalisation of education poses challenges and presents opportunities for advancing intercultural creativity. UAL is ideally placed to lead the debate on what it is to be a contemporary global creative.

The paper presentation traces the development of notions of creativity in the West and Confucian heritage cultures and offers insights from a qualitative research study undertaken with UAL students and staff. The session offers participants the opportunity to explore their own perceptions of creativity, to answer questions about whether the process or the product is more valid in defining creativity, and whether creativity is a trait a person possesses or a skill that can be taught.

The majority of creativity research has taken place in the West and much cross-cultural research into creativity in Confucian heritage cultures has utilised Western measures and sought to determine which culture is more creative, based on assumptions about individual and collective societies and perpetuating the antipathy between creativity and conformity (Ng, 2001). The session will explore how understandings of creativity are culturally situated. Current international research on creativity such as Richard Florida’s (2002) notion of a creative class will be reviewed and a dialogue encouraged around the extent to which creativity is an internal personality related construct or a context-dependent phenomenon

How will students be involved in the session?

Qualitative research is based on interviews with UAL students but it is not envisaged to include students in the presentation

What will participants take away from the session?

Participants will discuss international comparisons of creativity and engage in a dialogue about their experiences of practicing, teaching and assessing creativity in order to develop proposals for future good practice.

  1. To explore how understandings of creativity are fostered.
  2. To share experiences of creative practice, teaching and assessment.
  3. To expand our understandings of intercultural creativity in the 21st century.
  4. To prompt discussion on developing a global creative education