The gist of some new research directions. On impressions around science and creativity, and the space between them.

by David Ng

This is just a heads up that my lab will be “having a go” at some new research queries. Specifically, one that examines the interspace between impressions of “science” and impressions of “creativity.” In fact, tonight I’m heading to Calgary to meet up with Marie-Claire Shanahan and take a crack at the first draft of the grant proposal. In the meantime, however, you can stay in the loop with our progress at our open research blog. Below is a quick (grant-speak-ish) write up of what we hope to do.

Science is a creative endeavor. This is obvious to many who actively participate in scientific research as they see their work as a continuum of creation, whether it leads to product or discovery. Similarly, the notion that science is creative is also obvious when viewed under the lens of those who study “creativity,” a term that is rich with diverse interpretations but often abridged as “the ability to create work that is both novel and appropriate” (Sternberg and Lubart, 1999). Despite this clear agreement, public perceptions around science, including those perpetuated in classroom settings, almost universally exclude the role of creativity (Braund, 1999). As a result, this detachment leads individuals away from an authentic view of science, which not only creates false impressions, but could also lead to a loss of scientific identity (where one considers “who we think we must be to engage in science”, Calabrese Barton, 1998, p. 379). This, in turn, could culminate in an unintended estrangement.

Under this context, this research will aim to explore notions and impressions of both authentic science and creativity, and the effect of science educational programming that actively promotes their connection. Here, the aim is to build research queries around the activities of a science education lab that: (a) operates within, and therefore has unparalleled access to, a highly regarded multidisciplinary scientific research unit – the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia; and (b) has already shown an inclination towards programming that relies on collaborations between scientific and artistic communities. Given that this programming also extends over a variety of school grade levels (elementary and secondary), takes place in a state of the art genetics research (authentic) space, involves participant numbers in the 1000s, and is malleable towards specific research interests; this collaboration and this research is viewed as an unprecedented opportunity to delineate the effect of the science and creativity disconnect in public perception.

Since, we’ve set this up as an open blog and all, we’d love to hear what people think. Check it out here.