Emory Report
January 29, 2007
Volume 59, Number 17

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January 29 , 2007
Creativity and the arts

by rosemary magee

How will we deal with emerging diseases? How will we bring greater understanding among peoples and cultures in an age where new technologies allow misunderstandings to multiply? How will we continue to transform lives in and out of the classroom? How will businesses stay on the cutting edge in a rapidly changing marketplace? How will music, visual art, drama, and dance deepen and enrich our lives and community?

Poets and scientists alike proclaim the power of the imagination in seeking to discover what does not yet exist or is not yet known. “The possible’s slow fuse,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “is lit by the Imagination.” Similarly, Albert Einstein emphasized both the imagination and a sense of mystery as essential to scientific discovery.

By focusing our resources, Emory can build on the kind of creativity that already flourishes across disciplines and schools. For instance, Yerkes National Primate Research Center is making landmark discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems.

The nursing school and anthropology department are working together on a new five-year program that would offer a B.A. in anthropology and a B.S. in nursing. Plans are under way for a humanities initiative that involves collaborative efforts between the health sciences and the arts and sciences. At Emory, creativity can also be found in numerous scientific collaborations, including laboratories for drug discovery, as well as in humanistic inquiry and teaching.

The arts especially play a critical educational role in honing and disciplining the cognitive skills of creativity and in enhancing human understanding, both for individuals and society. Thousands of manuscripts on English-language poetry available through Emory’s Raymond Danowski poetry collection represent the extraordinary range of research opportunities. The Schwartz Center and the Carlos Museum regularly host artists and exhibitions, building on Emory’s own resources while reaching out to scholars, students, the community, and the world.

Salman Rushdie began his relationship with Emory through the Ellmann Lectures, one of the most distinguished literary lecture series in North America. And Rushdie’s teaching appointment and the acquisition of his papers reinforce Emory’s recognition of the critical role of the arts in sustaining free societies and in confronting oppression.

Through an integrative platform, Creativity and the Arts provides vision and collaborative possibilities to promote school and unit goals, such as Emory College’s new Center for Creativity and the Arts.

Creativity and the Arts will infuse all of the strategic initiatives with seminars and symposia, exhibitions and concerts. In so doing, Emory will further cultivate an environment that preserves and produces knowledge by upholding rigorous standards while simultaneously engaging the imagination. Beyond the campus, we will seek new opportunities for artistic and intellectual alliances across the city, the region, and the world.

As Emory embarks on ambitious plans for the future, we must continue to nurture our imagination. One of the advantages of the American system of higher education is the emphasis we place on unlocking creativity — in a free economy, these qualities give us a distinct advantage. Increasingly, creative intelligence is acknowledged as one of the most prized attributes in the global market for talent. The breadth and depth of experience provided by this strategic framework ensures that Emory will more fully recognize, and be recognized for, the values of creativity and artistic expression in all that we do.

“Imagination,” according to George Bernard Shaw, “is the beginning of creation.” Our collective imaginations have the power to create — and in so doing to transform our lives and the world.