By Joy S. Jones
In fall 2014, Katie Shephard, professor of speech, became a faculty fellow at the Collaborative Design Center. One of the purposes of this new position is to give faculty members a chance to spend a full academic year learning first-hand and in-depth about creative thinking, attitudes and behaviors.
“Although I’ve only been in this position about a month, I’m already learning tools to keep people engaged and thinking differently about whatever the issue or problem is at hand. This will, in turn, help students to be more creative and critical thinkers, not only in their college courses but in their personal lives and careers,” Katie said.
Throughout the year, Katie will, alongside Gert Garman, director of the Collaborative Design Center, develop creative thinking toolkits for encouraging design thinking and creative problem solving collegewide. The two will also work on developing a mobile creative thinking concept for faculty and staff members on all campuses to use in their department or classroom to engage others in creative thought.
During the fellowship, she will also have an opportunity to support the Collaborative Design Center in its mission to serve groups at the College, as well as in the community, to identify innovative solutions and help design solutions for cultural change, growth and development.
“Katie adds a new perspective to the work we do here,” said Gert. “She has so much classroom experience inspiring students to learn, and we can apply some of those same principles to our facilitations for groups to help them discover those ‘a-ha’ moments. Plus, her enthusiasm and amazing outlook add to our everyday experiences. She is quite an asset to me and to the College.”
Researching creativity and innovation, design thinking and collaboration, as well as helping design, facilitate and assess programs are also on tap.
“”While I think critical (convergent) thinking is especially important in the classroom, I think that creative — divergent then convergent — thinking encourages people to be more engaged, have more fun with their learning and see themselves as innovative,” Katie said.
Looking forward, Katie believes that incorporating her newfound knowledge will be a win/win for all involved.
“To me, this is how lives, companies and the world is changed — through an authentic, engaged, innovative thinker who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and who doesn’t allow failure to hinder or define her/him. It’s my hope that upon my return to the classroom that I can implement creative thinking into every facet of my courses to inspire the same growth in the students I encounter.”