IMPLEMENTING CREATIVITY IN UNIVERSITIES: ENHANCING EMPLOYABILITY
The year 2009, has been designated as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation (EUROPA, 2009) as an attempt to highlight the importance of creativity not only for Europe's economic prosperity, but also for our social and individual well-being. Nevertheless, despite its increased recognized importance, specifically within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), universities have made little adjustments to their teaching practices, their curricula and to their relationship with the industry to help nurture creativity.
The development of creativity skills for both academics and students at teaching/ learning and research levels is more important now, within the context of the economic crisis experienced in many E.U. countries, than ever before. We must develop students who can manipulate, transform and create new knowledge” (Caridad Garcia-Cepero, 2007, p.3) that is currently in much demand in revitalising the economy. This links with the employers who are searching for creative labour force to overcome the increasingly uncertainty future of their businesses.
The current paper makes a serious attempt of introducing new knowledge that is innovative and original and that is the direct result of empirical research findings that can transform creativity, and in particular ‘small c’ creativity (Begetto and Kaufman, 2007, Schilling, 2005), into specific pedagogical methods and strategies across disciplines. The paper aims to fill a missing gap of research regarding teaching in Cypriot universities. Many local researchers appear to focus on making their findings applicable to the entire education system, paying little attention to issues specific to the HE sector and the cultural patterns of their area. In order to reach these goals, the study has produced a critical analysis of the literature in the field and based on its findings and gaps has prepared a methodological framework, predominantly a constructivist one, which comprises of a set of 100 quantitative questionnaires to academics, a set of 6 qualitative focus groups and 30 semi-structured interviews with major stakeholders: the students, the academics and the industry. The obtained set of data has been processed under an interpretative inquiry approach, aiming to answer the gaps found in the literature review and those emerging from the interviews. This approach is commonly accepted ways of thinking about creativity, and how this is reflected in the university classes and in the industry at large.
Thus, in this paper, an attempt is made to link the ‘creative capital’, as defined by Florida (2002), and the pedagogical practices of faculty, by outlining a number of principles that, when taken together, may represent a structure for coordinating a learning environment that prioritizes the curriculum design and that which enhances creativity in universities.
Finally, this paper is putting a case forward: that creativity can be fostered and learned and universities can play an influential part. At the heart of this approach is the understanding that employability, creativity and effective learning are closely linked and relate closely with the qualities rated highly by employers (Yorke & Knight, 2006).