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Hampshire College Establishes Creativity Center

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hampshire College announces the establishment of the Creativity Center, designed to foster imaginative thinking and collaboration across fields of knowledge. It is being launched with a $500,000 lead gift from clothing designer and businesswoman Eileen Fisher.

"I am excited and inspired that Hampshire College is focusing on cultivating creativity and collaboration. It gives me hope for the future," said Ms. Fisher, who is the parent of a graduate of Hampshire.

Professor Marlene Gerber Fried, interim president last year and now senior presidential adviser, said: "Hampshire College encourages faculty and students to take bold, edgy approaches to thought and action. We take our motto seriously—to know is not enough. The Creativity Center will be dedicated to encouraging creativity across the College in order to prepare our students to be visionaries and problem-solvers of the future."

Gerber Fried worked closely with the Eileen Fisher team and leads the faculty, student, and staff group developing the project. Her efforts received high praise from President Jonathan Lash: "Through Marlene's brilliant leadership and direction, and Eileen Fisher's generous gift, we are steadily moving forward in developing the Creativity Center. I applaud Marlene's efforts as she has worked tirelessly to build synergies among wonderfully creative and entrepreneurial students and colleagues," President Lash said.

In keeping with Hampshire's tradition of pedagogical innovation, and in an effort to intentionally affirm the central role of creativity at the College, the Creativity Center will help students, faculty, staff, and alumni connect in physical and intellectual settings designed to spark creativity and social change. It will support new pedagogical approaches and curriculum development, including re-imagining existing courses as well as faculty and student projects.

The center will create space for the risk-taking and creative surprises that come from connecting imaginative people in a resource-rich environment. Inventive ideas and solutions will come from the work of designers, scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and humanists, from a variety of fields and interdisciplinary clusters across campus. The center will establish a dynamic network of programs, physical spaces, and a campus community dedicated to interdisciplinary work.

"It provides students an integrated network of resources from every corner of the campus: speakers, technology, fabrication, other students, staff, innovative courses, even an opportunity to think about turning the Division III [senior] project into an enterprise after Hampshire," said Professor Ellen Donkin, dean of Hampshire's School of Interdisciplinary Arts. "If you have an idea, the Creativity Center is the place to find out just how far you can take it."

A speaker series devoted to creativity across disciplines and a robust alumni network to provide mentorship will build strong "creativity connections" both on and off campus.

"Hampshire College has always been a hotbed of creativity of many kinds, and to some extent the creative process has itself been a significant topic of study here," said Professor Lee Spector. "But all of this has previously taken place in a distributed fashion, spread across our interdisciplinary Schools and programs. The Creativity Center is exciting because it will be dedicated to the study and practice of creativity across the curriculum, in all disciplines and all modes of inquiry.

"It will connect all of Hampshire's approaches to the study and practice of creativity, and offer resources and programs that allow for synergistic interactions and new opportunities for students to work in these areas," said Spector.

Through the Creativity Center, Hampshire's strong academic and physical resources in art, design, and technology will be more integrally connected. Central to this will be incorporation of activities and resources developed by Hampshire's Lemelson Center and the Design, Art, and Technology (DART) program. The Lemelson Center offers courses and activities that merge entrepreneurship, art, engineering, and design. DART sponsors new curricular collaborations and student projects that lead to the development of new artistic processes and innovative work. The Creativity Center will carry the momentum of both programs forward in a way that connects them to all parts of the College.

Hampshire students set a high standard for independent and collaborative work. By actively promoting and teaching creativity, self-motivation, and innovation, Hampshire graduates are able to enter the job market and address social, political, and environmental issues with problem-solving and visionary ideas. The Creativity Center will help continue the tradition of giving Hampshire students an edge in developing skills that set them apart in the world.

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