(Ashland, Ore.) — The third annual Creativity Conference at SOU will begin its four-day run on Thursday, July 8, with a slate of 170 presenters, including 46 from outside the U.S. The conference is expected to draw a total of about 250 presenters and participants – many of the world’s top scholars, researchers and practitioners in the field of creativity.
This year’s conference will be entirely digital and online, following the cancellation of the 2020 event and uncertainty that lingered well into the spring about the COVID-19 pandemic. Dan DeNeui, a conference co-chair and director of SOU’s Division of Social Sciences, said that both in-person and remote options were mapped out for this year’s conference and the online version was chosen to ensure an event that won’t be disrupted again.
“We made the decision in the spring to give us time to alert our speakers and guests of the virtual-only conference, and put our plans fully in place to make this conference a fantastic virtual experience,” DeNeui said.
This year’s keynote speakers include Ron Beghetto, a professor and director of the University of Connecticut’s Innovation House; and Ruth Richards, a professor at Saybrook University, a private school in Pasadena, California.
Beghetto is an internationally recognized expert on creative thought and action in educational settings. He is the editor of publications including the Journal of Creative Behavior and has served as a creativity advisor for organizations such as the LEGO Foundation and the Cartoon Network. His keynote address at the Creativity Conference will be a 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 9.
Richards works in the areas of consciousness, spirituality, integrative health and creative studies. Her academic interests include the healthy benefits of the creative process. Her keynote address at the Creativity Conference will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.
Another big name at the conference will be its other co-chair, SOU Director of Creativity Research and Programming Mark Runco. He has produced a series of tests to measures creative potential and performance, and teaches both graduate- and undergraduate-level classes on creativity and innovation.
Runco’s deep background in the study of creativity is relied upon as keynote, featured and other speakers are chosen for the Creativity Conference.
“We draw speakers who are already well known in the study of creativity, and we also draw those who are actively working on new research and who are the ‘rising stars’ in the industry,” DeNeui said.
The event offers about 150 talks, panels and a feature that was well-received at the most recent conference in 2019 – 15-minute “boom talks,” typically about the current outcomes of active research.
The annual conference also provides opportunities for creativity researchers to collaborate and broaden their network.
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.