As part of its membership activities, EUA launched in January 2006 a new project – Creativity in Higher Education – with support from the European Commission in the framework of the Socrates Programme.
The Project addressed the question of how creativity and innovation can be enhanced in higher education and sought to contribute to our understanding of the ways in which European society can regain its creativity edge. With the participation of thirty-three higher education institutions grouped into four networks, the Project’s two main objectives were to:
- Foster the development of creativity in European higher education institutions through good practice related to four network themes.
- Contribute to developing and improving an institutional culture of creativity.
The Project focused upon ways to develop creativity in education and research by examining how to enhance the learning and research environment as well as the relationship of higher education institutions with public and private partners. In addition, it aimed to identify institutional structures and processes that can promote creativity in higher education institutions.
The participating institutions cooperated in four networks, each focused on a specific theme. One of the main highlights of this project was to bring together, in each network, a range of institutions, including music and art schools, technical institutions and comprehensive universities.
Each network worked on one of the following four themes:
Creative partnerships: HEIs and external stakeholders
This network explored the development of creative lifelong learning provisions, research partnerships with industry and the impact of cultural activities on the creativity of local communities. It focused upon ways in which HEIs can improve their creative research potential and innovative output by involving stakeholder groups in the creative development process of products and services.
Creative learners: Innovation in teaching and learning
This network explored the possible ways in which creativity can be fostered through the teaching and learning process. In addition, although the arts have been seen as the creative field par excellence, little attention has been paid to their contribution to the overall creative potential of HEIs. The network was invited to consider how the arts could contribute to scientific and technical education and identified good practices in the field.
Creative cities/regions: HEIs, NGOs and governments
By and large, knowledge production is city based and the most knowledge-creative regions are anchored around a city. This network focused on two areas:
- Engaging the local community in the higher education institution
- Ensuring appropriate urban/regional policy initiatives that would support adequately creative HEIs
Creative HEIs: structures and leadership
The network focused upon the internal environment of HEI and the factors that can boost creativity, particularly upon issues such as internal structures, leadership and group dynamics. This network discussed possibilities for structural changes in HEIs which could improve their creative and innovative potential. Furthermore it identified good practices in sustaining a creative work environment, including ways in which HEI leaders can promote creativity and develop a creative culture in their institution.
The launch meeting of the Project took place on 17 January 2006 in Brussels where network coordinators met with the Steering Committee, EUA staff and facilitators to discuss the Project.
Between January and December 2006, the four networks met three times and each prepared a final network report based on the key issues identified within their discussions. The network reports highlighted good practices as well as the successes and obstacles encountered.
A final overall report was published in March 2007 based on the results of the four networks with recommendations on lessons learned from the Project in the context of a wider European platform.
The final report of the Creativity in Higher Education project can be downloaded here.