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Morrissey College of Arts and Science

UNCP5561 Creativity and Human Development

Syllabus: Fall, 2013

Professor John Dacey

Stokes Hall

Office hours: Thursdays 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and on my Canvas site:

Home phone: Evenings 7:30 - 8:00 p.m. (Really important calls only, please) 781-861-1072


The best path to becoming a more creative thinker is to learn how creative people think. When you do, you cannot help but emulate the process, because consciously and unconsciously, you will want to. There is a genetic component, but nevertheless, everyone is able to become more creative.

This course will help you understand how successfully creative people think, believe and feel. Your job will be to compare yourself to these descriptions, note the ways in which you are like them, and admit the ways in which you are not. You did not become a senior at Boston College without being above average in creativity, as well as in intelligence. Therefore you have already made progress toward being a more effective thinker and problem solver.

In this course, you will look at your life prospectively (in the future) and retrospectively (up to now), with a distinct emphasis on what role your level of creative ability has played and will play. These two analyses will be achieved through writing two papers (each at least eight to 10 pages long). In the first, you will decide what role you want creativity to play in your life to come, to what extent you choose to use it to make contributions to your society, and how you hope to make that happen.

In the second paper, you will take a hard look at your family relationships and your social environment to assess how each has fostered and deterred your creative abilities. It will involve an unresolved crisis from your childhood or adolescence. (Both papers will be explained more fully in class.) The major focus of this course is to help you do this, through a variety of strategies for being more creative in all you do. Finally in these two papers, you will need to ascertain how and whether you want spirituality, broadly defined, to assist you in your quest. These two papers will each account for 25 percent of your grade.

Another 30 percent will derive from a semester-long creativity project in which you will use all of your imaginative powers to design something (a product, an activity, an artistic endeavor, etc.) that you hope will significantly benefit society. You will learn more about how to do this as the semester goes on.

The remaining 20 percent of your grade will depend on the quality (not quantity) of your contributions to the whole class, as well as small group discussions. Each will take place each week and will be based on the several readings assigned for that week. Here is how the small group discussions will work:

There will be four groups of four to five students. At the end of seven weeks, groups may be reassigned. Each week, a different group member will be responsible for bringing a least three thought-provoking questions for each of the readings assigned for that day, and will lead the discussion of them. You should combine your group’s answers into one file, typed by another group member as an electronic file (this role also rotates). After class, that person will email the group’s answers to everyone in the class at You should read these emails to see how other groups handled the assignment. I will be reading and grading each file.

Here’s the main point: everyone in the group gets the same grade for each week’s product. That means that if you don’t do the readings (and take notes), you will let your group down. Also, I will be observing the discussions and I will see who is participating. If you fail to do your share, your group’s grade will suffer.

As to large groups, I will lead the first two. After that, pairs of students, chosen randomly, will lead the discussions. They will decide on the questions to be discussed, and will randomly call on students to answer their questions. Recorders of the groups’ ideas will also rotate each week. Every two weeks, you can see your grade for participation in large and small group discussions by looking at the grade book on Canvas.

PS: No computers or cell phones on desk tops in first half of class.

Required Texts

Dacey, J. (2011). A history of the concept of creativity. Chapter in Gardner, H., & Sternberg, R., Eds. Encyclopedia of creativity, 3 Vols. 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Academic Press. (available at my Canvas site)

Dacey, J., & Conklin, W. (2013). Creativity AND the Standards. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell/TCM.

Dacey, J., & Lennon, K. (1998). Understanding creativity: The interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. NY: Wiley.  

Brown, B. (April 7, 2015). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. NY: Avery.

Supportive Texts

Bennett, H. (2009). Write starts: Prompts, quotes, and exercises to jumpstart your creativity. NY: New World Library.

Carson. S. (2010). Your creative brain: Seven steps to maximize imagination, productivity, and innovation in your life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Health Publications.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1998). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life (masterminds series). NY: Basic Books   (Paperback)

Galindo, J. (2010). The power of thinking differently: an imaginative guide to creativity, change, and the discovery of new ideas. Los Altos, CA: Hyena Press.

Gardner, H., & Sternberg, R., Eds. (2012).Encyclopedia of creativity, 3 Vols., 2nd Ed.. San Francisco: Academic Press. (Expensive: only for the passionate student of creativity.)

Hurson, T. (2007). Think better: An innovator's guide to productive thinking. Boston, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Kurtweil, R. (2012). How to create a mind. NY; Viking.

Michalko, M. (2011). Creative thinkering: Putting your imagination to work. NY: New World Library.

Date and Session     Assignments

September  8  First class - Introduction

Dacey/Lennon 1
Nature of Human Nature (Canvas Module 1)
GOL Shield (CM1)
YouTube “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” – Sir Ken Robinson


Class topics for discussion
Infallibility of the professor
Getting to know my socks
Introduction to the course
A Letter to Dad (CM2)
Your creative ability – it’s higher than you think!
How this class will raise it significantly

September 15  A History of the Concept of Creativity; Finding Your Own Muse (a hypnotic meditation)

Read Freud - (CM 2)
Dacey: A History of the Concept of Creativity
My Creative Progress Tracker (CM2)
Vocation Handout


Class topics for discussion:
Freud lecture: (Sample topics for discussion: Sex = main motive in life? 3 functions of psyche? Five stages? Oedipus and Electra?)
Dacey/Lennon 2: A History of the Concept of Creativity (Sample topics for discussion: 3 eras, religious vs. genetic vs. biopsychosocial)
Finding Your Own Muse (a hypnotic meditation)
Discuss your filled-in My Creative Progress Tracker

September 22  Creativity Theory

Read or listen to Erikson, Part 1 (through Stage Four – CM3)
Dacey/Conklin Chapters 1 and 2
Take test(s) –
Presentation on Creative Innovations in Firefighting and Emergency Care –think of one question


Class topics for discussion:
Erikson lecture
What is a creative person like?
Theories of how creativity works
Questions for creative Fire Chief Dan Stewart

September 29  Creative Thinking and Your Family’s Life Style

Read or listen to Erikson (Stage Four through Stage Eight – CM4)
The Dacey family study (CM4)
Dacey/Lennon 3


Class topics for discussion:
Erikson lecture
The Dacey family study
Dacey/Lennon 3
Magic Country Picker

October  6  Creative Thinking and Your Social Milieu

Read or listen to Skinner – CM5


Class topics for discussion:
Skinner lecture
Discuss Flow - Csikszentmihalyi
Torrance model of creativity
“Speed dating”: form in groups of two to discuss a specific question. After three minutes, the odd-numbered persons move onto the next even-numbered partner, and continue discussion. Repeat four times.
The Creativity Scavenger Hunt

October 13  The Sociohistorical Causes of Significant Bursts of Creativity (such as the American Revolution)

Read or listen to Bandura (CM6)
Dacey/Lennon Ch. 4
Better Method of Classroom Control (BMCC - CM6)


Class topics for discussion:
Bandura lecture
Dacey/Lennon 4
Discuss conflict resolution styles of men and women: voting versus getting to consensus.
Informal class evaluation
Popsicle stick bridges (Olympics of the Mind)
(First paper due – prospective)

October 20  Characteristics and Values of Creative Thinkers

Read or listen to Piaget lecture – CM7
Dacey/Lennon 5 and 7
View authenticity video “The Power of Vulnerability”: What is the role of error in creativity?


Class topics for discussion:
Piaget lecture
Dacey/Lennon 5 and 7
Class interview with Tim Lindgren, BC technology specialist, on the most creative applications of the Internet
Write a haiku poem (see document in CM7)

#8   October 27  Alternative Class
First half of Brown

November 3  Strategies Creative Thinkers Typically Use

Read or listen to Frankl lecture
Dacey/Conklin strategies paper (CM9)
Dacey paper on brainstorming (CM9)


Class topics for discussion:
Frankl lecture
Dacey/Conklin strategies
Brainstorming on term projects
Problem-solving – scavenger hunt around campus with cell phone cameras
Design an activity to demonstrate 18 strategies
Questions about second paper. Mail so it reaches reader 7 days before you arrive where that person is.

The Central Role of Self Control

Read or listen to Maslow lecture – (CM10)
Dacey/Lennon 6
Dacey self-control study in the schools (CM10)
The Meaning of Life (CM10)


Class topics for discussion:
Maslow lecture
Dacey/Lennon 6
Dacey self-control study in the schools
"The neutron bomb" game

November 17  Creative Problem Solving

Read or listen to Jung lecture – (CM11)
Dacey/Lennon 9
Reflective listening (True Feelings – (CM11)                      


Class topics for discussion:
Jung lecture
Dacey/Lennon 9
Second half of Brown
Reflective listening
Black magic game

December 1  The Art of Creativity

Read or listen to Fromm lecture – (CM11)
Dacey/Lennon 10 and 11
Second paper due – unresolved crisis


Class topics for discussion:
From lecture
Dacey/Lennon 10 and 11
Creativity measurement techniques
Vote with your feet

December 8  Creative Ability; Presentations of Creative Projects

Read or listen to Buddhist psychology
Assessment paper
Dacey/Conklin 7 and 9


Class topics for discussion:
Buddhist psychology lecture
Dacey/Conklin 7 and 9
First third of students present projects. Fifteen minutes per person. Random selection of presentations. Creativity of presentation counts for 20%, content of ideas, 80%. Practice before class! Non-presenters write down critiques and email to whole class at end of session.

15  Presentations of Creative Projects
Second two-thirds of students present projects. Fifteen minutes per person.


Random selection of presentations. Creativity of presentation counts for 20%, content of ideas, 80%. Practice before class! Non-presenters write down critiques and email to whole class at end of session. Food?        
Happy Holidays!

Academic Integrity
Information for Students with Disabilities