Critical Creativity

On Critical Creativity – Critical Creativity Research Centre (CCRC)


Our Critical Creativity Research Centre (CCRC) is a new initiative that aims to explore and expand what creativity means locally, nationally, and globally. The Centre will bring together a diverse range of perspectives to challenge traditional notions of creativity and to promote more inclusive and equitable practices.

The Critical Creativity Research Centre will focus on exploring the fundamental complexities of creativity and its restorative contributions to various domains. Our transdisciplinary research agenda will investigate the social, and cultural factors that contribute to creative thinking, embodied cognition and problem-solving. We will explore the role of creativity in fields such as education, business, healthcare, and the arts, and examine how creativity promotes innovation and positive social change. Our research will integrate non-Western ethical and moral dimensions of creativity, by considering issues of ownership, appropriation, and cultural representation. Through our research, we aim to make an original and significant contribution to theory, methods, and knowledge, paving the way for the centre to be world-leading in its area of research.

At the CCRC, researchers will work collaboratively to investigate the complex skills that underpin creativity and to develop new ways of nurturing these skills. The Centre will prioritise socio-economic equity and inclusion, with a focus on creating positive impacts in creative education, employment, and policy. One of the key goals of the CCRC is to champion the underrecognized voices in the field of creativity. By listening to multiple perspectives and ideas, the Centre will broaden our understanding of what creativity can be and do. Through critical reflection and analysis, the CCRC will push the boundaries of traditional approaches to creativity and promote more inclusive and diverse practices.

The CCRC will prioritise impact generation throughout its lifetime by engaging with a range of users and stakeholders. We will work closely with policymakers to ensure that our research findings are translated into policy recommendations. We will organise policy briefings, workshops, and seminars to engage policymakers and ensure that our research is relevant and accessible to them.

We will collaborate with industry partners to ensure that our research is relevant to the needs of businesses and organisations. We will work with industry partners to co-create research projects, organise workshops and training sessions, and disseminate our research findings through industry networks.

We will engage with the public through a range of activities, including public lectures, exhibitions, and workshops. We will also use social media and other digital platforms to disseminate our research findings and engage with a wider audience. We will work with universities and other educational organisations, to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning that promote creativity and critical thinking. We will organise teacher training sessions, develop educational resources, to pilot new integrative approaches to teaching and learning. We will collaborate with international partners on research projects, organise international conferences and workshops, and disseminate our research findings through international networks.

Evidence of user engagement will be collected through a range of methods, including surveys, focus groups, and interviews. We will track the impact of our research through metrics such as policy changes, industry partnerships, and media coverage. By prioritising impact generation and engaging with a range of users and stakeholders, we aim to ensure that our research has real-world impact and contributes to positive social change.


Our proposed Critical Creativity Research Centre (CCRC) will problematise, scrutinise, and analyse the concept of creativity by broadening who defines it through a diversity of thought. The Centre’s main objectives are prioritised in the following order:

To contest and critique what creativity is: The Centre will take a critical approach to understanding creativity, challenging existing assumptions and norms. It will explore the social, cultural, and economic factors that shape our understanding of creativity and how it is valued. The aim is to promote a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of creativity that recognises its complexity and diversity.

To research and nurture the complex skills and attributes of creativity: The CCRC will prioritise research into the under-recognised characteristics that underpin creativity, including problem-solving, critical thinking, making, and communication. It will explore how these characteristics can be nurtured and developed across a range of domains, including education, employment, and policy. The goal is to deepen our understanding of how creativity operates and how it can be fostered and sustained.

To prioritise socio-economic equity and inclusion: The Centre will use collaborative methods of investigation to ensure that diverse voices and perspectives are heard and valued. The Centre will seek to understand how creativity operates within different socio-economic contexts and explore ways to make creative opportunities more accessible to everyone. The aim is to promote greater equity and inclusion in education, employment, and policy.

To champion the underrecognised: The Centre will focus on listening to multiple voices and perspectives to gain a broader understanding of what creativity can be and do. It will seek to challenge existing assumptions about creativity and validate marginalised forms of embodied creativity. The aim is to promote a more inclusive and diverse creative culture that recognises and values a wide range of creative practices.

To achieve restorative impacts in creative education, employment, and policy: The Centre will use its research and expertise to inform practices in education, employment, and policy. The Centre will seek to cultivate more equitable and sustainable forms of creative practice that benefit individuals, communities, and society. The aim is to contribute to a more flourishing and inclusive society through the promotion of critical creativity.

The ESRC Critical Creativity Research Centre will challenge existing assumptions about creativity and promote a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of this domain.  By prioritising socio-economic equity and inclusion, championing the underrecognised, and critiquing and contesting existing norms, the Centre aims to advance a more inclusive and diverse creative culture that benefits individuals, communities, and society.

The EPRG will develop UAL’s Research Strategy Objective 4: Enhancing the quality of our teaching through research.

The State of Play: Research at UAL informs the way we teach our students and enhances our pedagogy. We can do more to support this and to support more staff to become researchers. Our strategy will ensure more of our research feeds into both our teaching and pedagogy, changing the way our students learn for the better. We have already committed to doing more with our Climate Action Plan, for instance, including a pledge to teach students to develop sustainable practices and business models.

The Vision: There is an opportunity to make research a much bigger part of our educational remit. This requires us to discover innovative ways to enhance our teaching practice and find new ways to embed our research into our teaching curriculum. We want to do more to strengthen the alignment between teaching and research, as exposure to new knowledge at the edge of our disciplines is foundational to UAL’s world-class creative education.

To achieve this, we will:

Support practice-based and creative pedagogy

Provide staff development on how to develop a research-informed, and research-led teaching practice

Evidence the impact of our research across the curriculum

Ensure research alignment with current UAL programmes, informing ongoing curriculum design

The EPRG will help develop Objective 2: Demonstrating the value of creativity to society.

The State of Play: As a university, we have identified many causes that matter to us and where we believe we can make a difference, including the climate crisis and racial injustice. For these two areas, we released specific strategies in 2022. We also work within the wider creative industries and contribute to their powerful collective voice.

The Vision: We believe that through our research, we can do even more. We want to become greater advocates for the power of creativity to change people’s lives. We will leverage our research, public and community engagement, and other forms of research-linked knowledge exchange to champion the transformative potential of creativity. We also want to collaborate with more people in society, beyond art and design, from policymakers to scientists, communicating more about the research we do, so it is shared more widely and its insights can be applied.

To achieve this, we will:

Ensure our stories and insights reach a wider global audience to inform the future of the creative sector and policy development

Promote and champion Art and Design research in all its forms including creative practice as research.

Further engage with local communities, industry partners, and other universities to deliver research-driven knowledge exchange

Undertake research that supports and advocates for the role of the creative economy.

Critiquing Creativity

Towards transformation: conceptions of creativity in higher education
by Paul Kleiman
PALATINE, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
[This paper appeared in Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45: 3, 209- 217. This is a ‘Special Edition’ of the journal, focused on a number of papers presented at the Creativity or Conformity? Build a Culture of Creativity in Higher Education conference, Cardiff, 2007]

Creativity, which has now entered the discourse in higher education alongside other agenda items such as enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation, is an elusive and complex notion. It may evade the sort of definition, categorisation and compartmentalisation required to integrate it fully into the curriculum frameworks and assessment regimes that are currently in place in higher education. After a contextualisation of the subject, this paper describes the outcomes of a phenomenographic research project that set out to identify the qualitatively different ways university lecturers, across a range of arts, humanities and science disciplines, conceptualise creativity in relation to their pedagogic practice.
Keywords: creativity; conceptions; phenomenography; pedagogy; practice

Creativity and Education by Anne Harris
‘I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t get it. Finally I took the mask on a bike ride one day and it all fell apart and then I wrote about it and I think that was the beginning of me to open up the area of process is so important. Maybe I was too goals driven, so I think through this course it allowed me to slow down and I think that’s what creativity is to me now, is more understanding the process and engaging the kids in the process, not just the beginning and the end. It can be ugly in the middle and that’s okay. So I think that’s where my definition of creativity changed and it gave me permission to do those things and understand that if the mask falls apart and it’s in a million pieces that’s okay because you’ve still got something out of it. It’s not about the mask. It’s the process. I think that’s the thing. (Vancouver teacher)
Craft et al. (2008), in one of the last great books addressing creativity in a holistic manner from inside education, explored a clear trend toward a closing down of productive risk in secondary schools, despite a growing attention to creativity. The new data informing this text does the same, and picks up where theirs left off, drawing on the voices of secondary school teachers, students, and school leaders who suggest directions for the next generation of creative teachers and learners in a rapidly evolving global education landscape. It also extends the urgent need for critical commentary regarding creativity and culture championed by Leong and Leung (2013) in China/Hong Kong/Taiwan, and Neelands in the UK.
Creativity is ubiquitous today, in both scholarly discussions and more popular contexts such as industrial workplaces, community arts, and, more recently, education.
As Anna Craft noted, ‘Creativity is experiencing a global revolution. Since the 1990s, in many countries, it has assumed increasing importance in the school curriculum, contrasting strongly with previous approaches to creativity in education’ (2005, p i). In this short book I want to summarise some of the main debates in creativity and education that are raging today, but also look toward a future in which we might be less concerned with defining creativity and more committed to integrating it into our multi-sited lives, in all its diverse meanings and definitions.’

From Individual Creativity to Team-Based Creativity
Margarida Romero

Supporting the development of creative competency is important for the actualchallenges of the society. However, creativity has been mainly approached in anindividual way, without considering the specificities of team-based creativityprocesses. In this chapter, we establish the differences between creativity as anindividual approach and creativity as a collaborative process. Then we discusscreativity from the perspective of the leaners’ and teachers’ attitudes. Subsequently,we discuss the concept of the
margin of creativity
in different learning activities. Wefinalize this chapter by discussing digital uses that can support creativity in team-based contexts.
creativity, co-creativity, team-based creativity, social creativity,problem-solving