The Creative University : The experience of being a creative academic in higher education

Baldwin, Jonathan and Lackovic, Natasa (2022) The Creative University : The experience of being a creative academic in higher education. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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There is a widely acknowledged need for higher education to develop creativity among students, but little attention given to the importance of academics’ creativity in their work or the factors that might support, encourage and reward it. Indeed, there is a contradiction: that while HE teachers are being pushed to develop their students’ creativity they are themselves discouraged from being creative by a combination of management, regulation, focus on ‘satisfaction’ and ‘value for money’, and disciplinary traditions which combine to create an environment of conservatism and risk-aversion. This study establishes the context within which academics work, including the general policy drive towards creativity as an essential skill among the workforce discussed against the contradictory background of increasing regulation of HE. It then seeks to understand the qualitative experiences of academics from different disciplines who are for one reason or another attempting to change their programmes. Two core questions are addressed: • What factors enable or disable creativity among academics in higher education from their perspective and experiences? and • In what ways do academics practice creativity?   Within the educational context the site of creativity is seen as effecting change or enhancement in everyday practice. As the study progresses, the importance of personal values emerges, as does the often-strained relationship between individual academics and their field and domain. To explore creativity in depth, I employ experience research approaches, interviewing academics from five disciplines and institutions, building case study narratives around their practice and experience of creativity as they effect change or enhancement in their everyday work, using a mapping method to understand the process they undertook, and the various stakeholder engagements they encountered along the way. The key findings of the empirical part of the research are that while creativity may be an aspect of everyday practice for many academics, it is often a reaction to negative circumstances rather than planned, rarely considered as creativity but often as survival or coping, and that while the literature describes the role of management and administrative processes to be overbearing, the case studies suggest that they are often absent, which is of greater detriment. Of particular importance is the finding that case study subjects are distanced from their discipline and field, and their creativity is either a response to this or benefits from it. The research builds on existing work looking at how academics conceive of creativity to instead explore how people experience it, identifying that creativity is not something that exists as an attribute within academics but (potentially at least) within organisations. As such the study should inform approaches to the development of universities as creative rather than regulated environments that will in turn develop the creative graduates that government and industry demand.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? creativityinnovationhigher educationpedagogyorganisationalpolicymanagementeducation ??
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02 Feb 2022 10:36
Last Modified:
08 Feb 2024 00:23