This week at UWE we welcomed Dave Jarman, the Head of Enterprise Education at the University of Bristol to facilitate a session on creativity in research. Here’s some thoughts from Dave about how important creativity is in the business of research.
The Creative Researcher session explores the basic principles of creative and innovative thought and their importance for researchers. As researchers and as products of traditional education programmes we often prize critical and analytical thought very highly – but the ability to suspend critical thought is integral to generating creative thoughts from which truly innovative applications can arise. Too often we seek the ‘right answer’ which usually leads us exactly where everyone else has gone before – if we’re trying to find something original we have to look where others do not.
As a result creativity involves a different approach; partially an internal one – giving yourself permission to make mistakes, to explore the ridiculous, to follow your curiosity down possible dead-ends, and to stretch yourself into ‘uncomfortable’ and unfamiliar territories. But the external environment also has an impact; creativity thrives in resource-rich and diverse networks. You need stimulation, connections, and an environment conducive to exploration to generate creative ideas and experiment with them.
I’m a former researcher into the microbiology of the mouth who now runs a skills development programme for other researchers.