Tentative Syllabus - For Preview Purposes

Communicating Creativity

(Com 489)

Dineh Davis, Ph.D., Associate Professor



Every noteworthy scientific or artistic research endeavor depends upon our ability to articulate and communicate our creativity. We will document, analyze and assess the theoretical bases of this communication process from its intrapersonal roots through its interpersonal and small group development stages, culminating in its final acceptance in our social setting. We will examine a diverse sampling of scholars whose creative research and discoveries have led to permanent shifts in our culture and environment. Along the way, we will search for answers to the following questions: How did the concept of creativity reveal itself in various cultures over time? Does creativity occur only on special occasions, or to those with a certain talent? Is the concept of creativity limited to certain fields or endeavors or excluded from others? Can someone be labeled "creative" if s/he is not acknowledged by society for the creative act? Ultimately, how do creative thoughts turn into action or any other form of communication in our personal and professional lives?

Course Objectives: To discover the many ways in which humans have defined creativity through communication: in verbal and nonverbal domains; as expressed by individuals; and as defined by societies. This systematic and theory-based study will focus on the link between creative outlets and cultural paths that acknowledge - by either rewarding or extinguishing - the creative spirit through various communication outlets in our environment. To prepare Communication Majors for their capstone project/thesis (Com490).

Expressions of creativity are not necessarily about discarding or abandoning the past; rather, they involve the need for balance between honoring and preserving the best of our traditions, yet leaving room for future growth and adaptation – a critical search for balance that will inspire the best in our quest for personal, professional, communal, global, and universal desires and obligations.

The following required texts serve as examples of research that exemplify the complex of personal, field- and domain-based factors that influence the social adoption of new memes created by individual scientists and artists. It will be supplemented by current research at the time of the course offering.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996) Creativity: flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York : HarperCollins Publishers

Creativity in Science: Chance, logic, genius, and Zeitgeist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


A selected bibliography is included for additional reading. Students should have no difficulty with researching appropriate academic sources from the Internet. For example, on scholar.google.com alone, there are well over 23000 scholarly references on creativity and communication! Hamilton library's online resources are available via The Voyager and the students are expected to carry on a variety of individual and group research projects as well for primary-source information.

(bi-weekly assessments through Week 12; exclusive of final exam)



Bi-weekly Points

Semester Total

Discussions: Class, Lab, &/or online



Individual Projects



Small Group projects



Continuous Assessment



Final Examination






Your course grade will be based on a cumulative 100 points of the standard grading system. "Plus and Minus" grades will be used as necessary. This cumulative system (as opposed to averaging) will indicate steady progress and consistent contributions on a weekly basis. Please be sure to review my policy on contributions and note the potential for "negative participation" as well. Every week, starting on the second week and continuing through week 13, we will have a combination of the following elements:

Discussions on that weekÕs topic(s). There will always be at least one "required" reading & discussion – which is likely to be based on your book reading assignment (CsikszentmihalyiÕs Creativity)

                  b. Individual projects: mind-expanding games and assignments. These are based on a variety of activities; but youÕll need to choose at least ONE activity per week. These are independent projects or contributions.

                  c. Small group projects: interactive sessions; small group work. You may pair with one or more of your classmates and either have face to face or online, real-time experience (as on Chat) or find your own mutually agreeable way to work out a particular problem to solve. The choice of the problem is yours and the solution needs to come from a jointly creative perspective. Students must take turn in leading the group activity with their partner(s). Regular rotation must allow for shifts in leadership among group members.

                  d. Optional quizzes: If your contribution to the discussions has not been substantial per instructorÕs assessment, you may choose to take a quiz for that week to boost your grade. However, the only way you qualify for this "make-up" exam is if you had already contributed on time in the first place. In other words, this exam-taking is not in place of discussions, but in addition to it, if you wish to raise your grade.. You will have at least one week to prepare for such exams. (3 points per week maximum; to make up for deficiency in weekly discussion portion of assignments only).


Weeks 1-2: From imagination to communication: Who are the participants in this class and what do we want from this experience beyond the structure and content identified by the instructor? Structure and content of the course and room for flexibility based on participantsÕ needs and inclinations. Does creativity exist beyond its external manifestations? (Is it real if itÕs not communicated? Understood? Accepted?)


Theoretical foundations for creativity and how this concept is communicated to us throughout a lifespan: Commonalities across disciplines and cultures. Tools for creativity; predispositions and learned behaviors for using them. Along with required readings, students are encouraged to become familiar with the concepts of multiple intelligences, emotional intelligence, and flow (see bibliography on Gardner, Goldman, and Csikszentmihalyi respectively). Video viewing & discussion: Optimizing Intelligences.


Individual contributions: in addition to responses to readings each student needs to select a personal "Show & Tell" topic as well as a "Show & Interact" topic: These can be current events; research-inspired; personal observations that demand academic validation; or a puzzlement (though not a puzzle!) Then you can decide if this chosen topic lends itself to group work or not. If it is a solitary contribution, then leave it as such and simply "share" your findings with others. If there seems to be some benefit to working with one or more persons to further develop (or "transform" or change) the outcome, then take the initiative to find a classmate to help you with the process and presentation of the task and you will both receive the credit for that project.


Study groups: Begin your group work in the context of a "study group" and explore joint ways to represent some of your learning online or in class discussions. By reading every other class memberÕs background (required on either a home-page or the first weekÕs threaded discussion on participant information, to the extent that it will affect participation in the class) you might find others whose skills or talents complement your own and ask to see if they will participate in a study group with you.


For Group projects, please review list of classmates and make decisions based on joining those you do NOT know. You may also wish to try forming new groups each week. This will provide maximum effect for everyone! The Chat option will also be available for interaction among students, though students are personally responsible for setting up their own appointments with each other. Those interactions will be completely independent of instructor participation at any level.



Weeks 3-4: Communicating creativity in everyday life, from pure play, through the mundane to the significant. Theories of brain organization. Role of formal and informal education & "lifelong learning." We will continue to discuss the text and to explore theories of creativity throughout the semester. In addition to the required text, students should choose their own individual projects for each week and share their research activities with the class throughout the semester. Group work will continue with some guided and some open-ended options.

Knowledge expectations for the course are cumulative though we may seem to abandon certain topic areas from week to week! If you have forgotten some of your communication theories from past courses, be sure to refresh your memory by reviewing theories appropriate to your research area each week.

Examinations and exercises will be offered from Week 3 on, to allow students to increase their bi-weekly grade by a maximum of five points in the portion of the grade associated with discussions. This does NOT take the place of weekly discussion contributions; as the exam will not be offered to those who have not bothered to take the time to contribute to the weekly discussions. This is merely a device to accommodate different learning preferences and occasional lapses of judgment! It is intended as a safety-net to minimize stress for over-achievers and to cover for the occasional mishap that comes our way in Real Life!

Weeks 5-6: Culture, Tradition & creativity: Are certain traditions and cultures inherently opposing forces to creativity? How do mediated forms of communication help change or stabilize a cultural image?

Weeks 7-8: Communicating creativity with a "Capital C" (per CsikszentmihalyiÕs theory of Creativity in the context of cultural memes).

Communicating creativity in the visual arts & a cultural perspective on "media literacy.Ó

Weeks 9-10: Creating knowledge: the "optimal creativity" philosophy and role of culture in communicating and mediating the need for conformity and fixity; change and revitalization.

Weeks 11-12: Communicating our needs: creating our futures. Who is in charge of our future(s)? Where does this future begin?

Weeks 13-end of semester: final group & individual project presentations & review.

Please note: Course content is cumulative. Nothing is "shut down" though we will move on to new materials each week and may not respond to postings from prior weeks unless they have been "moved forward" to a new week. Knowledge expectations, however, are cumulative!

Final Examination: Based on readings, lectures, discussions, and group presentation outcomes.

Davis Bibliography Fulbright Grant

Selected Bibliography


                  Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to the social psychology of creativity. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

                  Ambrose, D., Cohen, L. M., & Tannenbaum, A. J. (Eds.). (2003). Creative intelligence: toward theoretic integration. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

                  Bohm, D. & Peat D. (2000).  Science, order, and creativity, 2nd Edition.  London: Routledge.

                  Collingridge, D. (1980). The Social Control of Technology. New York: St. Martin's Press.

                  Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperPerennial.

                  Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

                  Davis, D. (2004). Homogenization of cultural constructs through ICTs: The case of procrastination, creativity, and the Internet. In F. Sudweeks & C. Ess (Eds.), Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2004:  Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication, Karlstad, Sweden, 27June-1July 2004 (pp. 206-210). Murdoch, Australia: Murdoch University.

                  De Bono, E. (1994). De Bono's Thinking course: revised edition. New York: Facts on File.

                  Finke, R. (1990). Creative imagery:  Discoveries and inventions in visualization. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

                  Fong, M., & Chuang, R. (Eds.). (2004). Communicating ethnic and cultural identity. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

                  Goswami, A. (1999). Quantum creativity: waking up to our creative potential. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

                  Hayward, P., (Ed.) (1990). Culture, Technology & Creativity in the Late Twentieth Century. London: John Libbey.

                  Illich, I. (1973). Tools for conviviality. New York: Harper & Row.

                  Isaksen, S. G., Murdock, M. C., Firestien, R. L., & Treffinger, D. J. (Eds.). (1993). Understanding and recognizing creativity: The emergence of a discipline (Vol. 1). State University College at Buffalo: Ablex.

                  Johansson, F. (2004). The Medici Effect:  Breakthrough insights at the intersection of ideas, concepts, and cultures.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

                  Koestler, A. (1959). The sleepwalkers : a history of man's changing vision of the universe ; with an introduction. by Herbert Butterfield. London: Penguin.

                  Koestler, A. (1964). The act of creation. London: Penguin.

                  Larsson, U. (Ed.) (2002).  Cultures of creativity:  The Centennial exhibition of the Nobel Prize, revised edition.  Canton, MA: Science History Publications.

                  Medhurst, M. J., Gonzalez, A., & Peterson, T. R. (Eds.). (1990). Communication and the culture of technology. Pullman, WA: Washington State Univ. Press.

                  Michalko. (2001). Cracking creativity: The secrets of creative genius. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

                  Osho. (1999). Creativity: Unleashing the forces within. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.

                  Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations (4th ed.). N.Y.: Free Press.

                  Rothbart, H. A. (1972). Cybernetic creativity. New York: R. Speller.

                  Runco, M. A. (Ed.). (1997). The creativity research handbook (Vol. 1). Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press.

                  Samovar, L. A., & Porter, R. E. (2004). Communication between cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

                  Simonton, Dean Keith (2004) Creativity in Science:  Chance, logic, genius, and Zeitgeist.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

                  Smith, C. R., & Arntson, P. H. (1991). Identification in interpersonal relationships: One foundation of creativity. Southern Communication Journal, 57(1 (Fall), 61-72.

                  Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.). (1999). Handbook of creativity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

                  Sternberg, R. J. (2003).  Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

                  Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L. & Singer, J. L. (Eds.) (2004).  Creativity: From potential to realization.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

                  Tabachnick, B. R. (1998). Useful Educational Research in a Transforming Society. Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 24(2), 101-108.

                  Tanno, D. V., & Gonzalez, A. (Eds.). (1998). Communication and identity across cultures. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

                  Ulrich, D. (2002). The widening stream:  The seven stages of creativity. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words.

                  Weiner, R. (2000). Creativity & beyond : cultures, values, and change. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.