Creativity Conference at SOU

Second annual Creativity Conference at SOU to expand global conversation

Southern Oregon University will expand the global academic discussion of imagination and ingenuity this summer by presenting its second annual Creativity Conference at SOU – a four-day event expected to attract hundreds of participants from around the world.

The conference – on the SOU campus July 11-14 – is intended primarily for those who study creativity, but will also offer insights for those who consider themselves creative and those looking to leverage creative thinking in their fields.

Presentations will cover a wide variety of academic specialties, and working professionals will be able to participate in applied workshops featuring hands-on activities for developing and using creativity in the workplace.

Last year’s inaugural SOU Creativity Conference drew more than 300 people from 28 countries, to participate in about 175 presentations.

“I have been immersed in this field for over 30 years,” said Mark Runco, executive director of the SOU Creativity Conference and recently hired director of Creativity Research and Programming for the university.

“I have never seen an event anywhere near the one we had at SOU in 2018 – and will have again in July 2019,” he said. “Heck, 28 countries were represented, and many ‘big names’ in the field were here, and will be again. There really has been nothing like this – ever, anywhere.”

Runco has served as an endowed professor and creativity researcher at the University of Georgia and a research fellow at the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology. He is editor of the Creativity Research Journal and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Creativity, and has served as president of a division of the American Psychological Association dedicated to art, creativity and aesthetics.

Keynote speakers at this year’s Creativity Conference at SOU are Teresa Amabile, a Baker Foundation professor at Harvard Business School; and Dean Simonton, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Davis.

Amabile’s work focuses on individual creativity and productivity, and organizational creativity and innovation. Her keynote address will be presented by LEGO, a corporate sponsor of this year’s event.

Simonton’s studies have focused on human intelligence, creativity, greatness and the psychology that drives science.

Other featured speakers at this year’s conference will include Min Tang, director of the Institute for Creativity and Innovation at Germany’s University of Applied Management; Ron Beghetto, professor and director of the University of Connecticut’s Innovation House; Yael Katz, vice provost for academics at Canada’s Sheridan College; Jonathan Feinstein, professor of creative development at Yale University; Adam Green, of Georgetown University, founder and current president of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity; and Roger Firestien, senior faculty member and president of Innovation Resources, Inc., at State University of New York, Buffalo State.

Dan DeNeui, a conference organizer and director of SOU’s Division of Social Sciences, said the annual event provides an opportunity for creativity researchers to collaborate and broaden their network.

“The conference (last year) was a great way to get together and talk about how we can use creativity to solve problems,” DeNeui said.

This year’s program has not yet been announced, but is likely to be wide-ranging. Last year’s presentations ranged from “Fostering Creativity Through Virtual Environments” and “Attitudes toward creative people and innovators,” to “Rumination and Reflection During Art-Making.”

SOU has adopted the goal of serving as Oregon’s “university for the future.” Its strategic plan – the university’s roadmap into the future – places an emphasis on creativity, innovation and other human skills that augment technical skills and are particularly valued by employers.