What is Creativity? Faculty Respond

TCU professors discuss the importance of creativity across all disciplines.

Rainbow patterned lightbulb Illustration by Getty Images © phototechno

What is Creativity? Faculty Respond

TCU professors discuss the importance of creativity across all disciplines.

Compiled by Caroline Love

Endia Lindo 

Assistant Professor of Special Education, College of Education

I think of creativity as the act of connecting or expanding concepts in novel ways — taking the “what if” and figuring out how to make it happen. It may play out as seeing something few others can or as having the skill to integrate alternative perspectives. Creativity can serve to provide the next step or develop the uncharted route to a target destination or envision an entirely new destination.

Onofrio Annunziata 

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science & Engineering

I am a chemist, and creativity is an important component of my research and teaching activities. Creativity is a successful realization of the act of combining and/or transferring ideas. The act of combining ideas is the ability to link two or more distinct processes in order to generate a novel one. The act of transferring ideas is the extraction of a concept that seems apparently central to only a specific process and its application to another distinct process. Creativity plays an important role in teaching, as we may successfully explain complex processes by making analogies with more familiar processes sharing the same concept. We can also think of developing a new and interesting course by combining topics from two distinct subjects.

Suki John

Honors Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Classical & Contemporary Dance, John V. Roach Honors College and College of Fine Arts

I quote my late mother, Dr. Vera John-Steiner, from her seminal book on creativity, Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking (Oxford University Press, 1997): “The transformation of inner shorthands into artistically and intellectually convincing achievements requires craft, logic, mastery, and commitment … while still maintaining a clarity of vision akin to the freshness and magic of childhood.”

Russell Mack 

Instructor of Strategic Communication, Bob Schieffer College of Communication

The first half of creativity is joy. It’s taking an almost childlike pleasure in the act of creating something, whether it’s art or writing or even coming up with a plan. The second half is concentration. You need the discipline and willingness to put in the work to make it real. Otherwise, creativity is nothing but air and smoke that blows away. As for the raw talent, that’s a free gift from God. 

Lori Boornazian Diel

Professor of Art History, College of Fine Arts

Most people think of creativity as something inherent to the arts and in the domain of artists. In that regard, creativity would be the ability to express ideas or feelings in novel forms, be they through words, music or visual media. However, we should also see creativity as the ability to come up with original and innovative solutions to the world’s problems. Creativity is also necessary for science, engineering and medicine. Individuals with a talent for thinking imaginatively are essential to advance both the arts and sciences.

Komla Aggor

Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies, AddRan College of Liberal Arts

Creativity is the use of one’s intellectual resources and skills to make something new or different. Motivated by a desire to break through habit and the status quo, creativity flourishes where open-mindedness and freedom reign. Creativity can face resistance if its elements are seen as radical or a call for higher effort, but it has the power to move individuals and groups toward higher echelons of achievement. Indeed, as an instrument that enables thinking outside the box, creativity needs to be encouraged in every sphere of the academic enterprise — particularly in the classroom — if we are to distinguish ourselves collectively on the path to educational innovation.

Yashoda Bhagwat 

Assistant Professor of Marketing, Neeley School of Business

Creativity, to me, is the creation of brand-new and imaginative ideas. Creativity is really important because when these new ideas become a reality, we can see big changes in society. Someone had to come up with the idea of self-driving cars before they could become a reality! I think a lot of creative ideas connect things we ordinarily would not associate with one another. For example, a company like Rent the Runway makes use of a creative business idea because we ordinarily would not think to rent clothes. We generally associate renting with movies, yet renting evening gowns is a great idea because women typically don’t like to repeat wearing them.