Year of Creativity Fosters Makers' Spark

“No single virtue better describes what humans do best than creativity,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd in her recent announcement naming the 2019-20 academic year the Year of Creativity. “I look forward to encouraging the creative spark in all of us.”

Whether that spark drives advances in innovative labs or passion at a poetry reading, it will be celebrated by the Year of Creativity.

“We want to celebrate creativity in all of the disciplines and all affiliations — whether you are a student, faculty, staff or alum,” said Kit Ayars, director of strategy and partnership at the University Center for Creativity.

Ayars serves as co-chair of the Year of Creativity along with Jeanne Marie Laskas, Distinguished Professor of English and founding director of the Center for Creativity. A steering committee composed of faculty and staff from across disciplines and campuses will be meeting in June to begin identifying signature events and programs.

Recognizing creativity

Can’t wait for the new academic year to begin unleashing your creativity? The Center for Creativity is hosting Summer Lunchtime Create Breaks through June where faculty and staff can take part in hands-on experiences in an informal setting with workshop staff.

Once registered, join in the fun on your own schedule anytime between noon and 1:30 p.m. The center provides demos at 12:15 and 12:45 p.m., plus guidance as you work. No experience is necessary — amateurs and beginners are welcome!  

Visit the Center for Creativity’s website for a complete schedule of sessions and links to register.

You might have heard of the “maker movement,” which has used advances in science and technology to drive boundless creative pursuits. (Think 3D-printed violins and art that transforms images of brain scans into tangible sculptures.)

The maker movement is not confined to just art: Imagine plastics with higher melting points that can advance usage in laboratories, or startlingly light materials whose superconductivity means they can transmit data more efficiently.

“One of the broad goals I see for the Year of Creativity is to encourage all of the Pitt community to recognize that they are creative,” said Ayars. “It’s not a competition or a gold star that only some people get to wear. We are all creative beings.”

As in previous years, the Office of the Provost will award matching funds of up to $5,000 to support project proposals and programs related to creativity. Details about  submitting requests for matching funds, as well as additional programming will be available later this summer.

A rallying point for the community

The Year of Creativity is the sixth in an annual series of programming highlighting specific themes. In 2018-19, the Year of Pitt Global recognized how University students, faculty and staff have contributed to and are “at home” in the world.

In announcing this year’s theme, Cudd explained that after soliciting input about whether to continue the Year Of initiative, she found wide-ranging and enthusiastic support from the Pitt community. “Students find it exciting. Faculty and staff feel it makes Pitt unique,” she said, calling it a rallying point that focuses team efforts and encourages members of the University community to work together across departmental and school divisions.

“In short, it brings the Pitt community together,” said Cudd. “For these reasons, I’m pleased to put my wholehearted support behind the program.”