Syracuse University

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Myths of Creativity

HNR 360 - Myths of Creativity

MySlice Info:

Term: Spring 2016
Class #: 37784
Section: M003
Credits: 3

William Osborne III

Counts toward:
HNR Soc Sci, Collaboration, Interdisciplinary

Course Time(s):
MW 3:45 - 5:05 pm

Class times and locations often change. Please verify your class schedule in MySlice.

Course Description:

Let’s get some things straight: There was nothing special about Einstein’s brain. It wasn't bigger, and there wasn't anything “extra” about it. And Picasso wasn't born “Picasso.” And a so-called “genius” (someone with “genius IQ”) is no more likely to do anything special than her classmates. Archimedes. Einstein. Picasso. Steve Jobs. Mozart. There is an interesting list of magical superheroes in the pantheon of creativity. But there are some very non-magical explanations of how these creators accomplished what they accomplished. And there are things we all can learn by clearing up some of these myths. Despite the cultural tendency to elevate the very few, and the self-effacing tendency to deny it (“I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler”), each of us does have an opportunity to participate in meaningful creative work. Moreover, the 21st Century world you live in—and presumably hope to work in—requires this more and more. Now, to be clear: you are not guaranteed a Nobel Prize or Fields Medal in this class. But we will come to understand how all human beings are endowed with creative capabilities, how we each have the capacity to make significant creative contributions; and we will also see how our own personal lives are enriched by embracing this creative aspect of our beings. And what’s more, we will also come to understand how only very rarely does a major breakthrough come from one person, from someone in isolation toiling away in obscure brilliance as the movies would have it. Creative major breakthroughs involve a ton of unglamorous tedious work, a vast amount of preparation, and maybe even a greater amount of luck. And they almost always involve teams of people working together, collectively. Which is what we’ll do in this class—work together. “Myths of Creativity” is an interdisciplinary, project-based course that looks at creativity across disciplines, examining historical and contemporary models that create today’s world and point toward tomorrow’s inquiries and breakthroughs. The course investigates models of innovation in the arts, sciences, and technological areas, as well as examples of strategic thinking in business, policy, military history, and sport. Students will understand and apply the concepts of creativity in these examples to areas of their own majors, and overall look carefully at the personal, social, and global implications of creative thinking.

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