The Science of Creativity and the Arts

The Science of Creativity and the Arts

January 10, 2018

The 2015-16 Harriet Elliott Lecture Series kicks off with a talk from Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, a Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Upcoming Events:

The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

Speaker: Dr. R. Keith Sawyer
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Talk at 7 pm, EUC Auditorium. Reception and book-signing to follow

This talk will provide you with a set of practical skills and techniques to enhance your creativity, grounded in the science of creativity research. Drawing from Dr. Sawyer’s 2013 book, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, you will learn the eight steps of creativity, and engage in hands-on activities for many of the steps. You will learn how to identify common blocks to creativity, and specific techniques to overcome each of the blocks.

Wired to Create

Speaker: Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Talk at 7 pm, SOEB 114. Reception and book-signing to follow

Predicting Artistic Brilliance in Children

Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Drake
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
A reception with light snacks and beverages will take place between 5:00 and 6:00 in the Weatherspoon atrium, followed by the talk from 6:00 to 7:00 in the Weatherspoon Auditorium.

Some young children are able to create stunningly realistic drawings that resemble those of adult artists. In this talk, I present research examining the perceptual and cognitive skills that underlie this talent.


Dr. R. Keith Sawyer

Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, studies creativity, learning, and collaboration. After receiving his computer science degree from MIT in 1982, he began his career with a two-year stint designing videogames for Atari. From 1984 to 1990, he was a principal at Kenan Systems Corporation, where he worked as a management consultant on innovation technologies. In 1990, Dr. Sawyer began his doctoral studies in psychology, where he studied creativity with Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of best selling books such as Flow and Creativity). Since receiving his Ph.D. in 1994, he has dedicated his career to research on creativity, collaboration, and learning. He has been a jazz pianist for over 30 years, and spent several years playing piano with Chicago improv theater groups.

Dr. Sawyer has published fourteen books and over 80 scientific articles. His research has been featured on CNN, Fox News, TIME, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and other media. A popular speaker, he lectures to corporations, associations, and universities around the world on creativity and innovation.

Scott Barry Kaufman

Scott Barry Kaufman is a cognitive psychologist who studies the development of intelligence, creativity, and personality. In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, he takes a look at why our society is so obsessed with measuring intelligence, instead of using the test results to inform tailored interventions to help all people succeed. He is the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigates the measurement and development of imagination. His new book about creativity and imagination, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (co-authored with Carolyn Gregoire), will be published by Penguin in December 2015.

Kaufman was formerly an adjunct assistant professor of psychology at New York University. He is a co-founder of popular nonprofit website The Creativity Post, writes the blog “Beautiful Minds” for Scientific American Mind, and is co-editor of the book The Philosophy of Creativity: New Essays. Kaufman is on the editorial board of journals BioMed Central Psychology and Journal of Intelligence. He has a doctorate in cognitive psychology from Yale University and a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Cambridge University, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Jennifer Drake

Jennifer Drake is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a minor in Statistics from Boston College in 2012. Her research program focuses on emotion regulation and the arts in children and adults. Her studies demonstrate that drawing works to improve mood not by allowing venting but by inviting distraction. In a second line of research, she studies the cognitive and perceptual processes underlying graphic representation skill in artistically gifted children in order to understand the development of superior perceptual abilities. She has found that realistic drawing talent is unrelated to IQ, and that children gifted in graphic representation exhibit perceptual strengths also seen in individuals with autism. Her research has been featured in Scientific American Mind, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.

An interpreter will be present for all events in the Series.