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Common Theme 2017-18Democratic Dialogue

Common Theme Overview

The recent passing of Steve Jobs prompted many to mourn the loss of a “visionary” while celebrating the Apple co-founder’s profound impact on both the function and design of modern technology. Jobs’ revolutionary ideas about design have a fascinating interdisciplinary origin point: he took a college calligraphy class because he found typography to be “beautiful, historical [and] artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.” This seemingly impractical interest manifested itself years later in Jobs’ inclusion of expressive typefaces in early Macintosh computers. Such expressiveness became an intrinsic part of Apple’s identity and did nothing less than revolutionize the relationship between modern technology and its users. The message is clear: transformative ideas can come from unexpected places. In order for that unexpected spark to occur, disciplinary knowledge must be coupled with the ability to look beyond disciplinary boundaries.

We believe that higher education has a vital role to play in the formation of the next generation of creative innovators and visionaries. We must give students the opportunity to form the interdisciplinary connections necessary to challenge conventional frameworks and invent new ones. We must recognize that a student’s pursuit of a personal passion has the potential to lead him or her to new collaborative partners and groundbreaking entrepreneurial ideas. We will spend the 2012-2013 academic year examining creativity, innovation and vision through the lens of questions such as:

  • What is the nature of creativity?
  • How can we as an institution foster creativity and innovative thinking in our students?
  • What are we doing to cultivate the next generation of "visionaries"?
  • How can we better cultivate organizational cultures that support creativity, innovation, collaboration and interdisciplinary connections?