Dr. Ron Anderson

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Texas Institute for Creativity and Innovation at Stephen F. Austin State University will host a national conference on creativity Feb. 4 - 6.

"Creativity Summit: Solutions for Business, Government and Education" will bring several national experts on creativity and innovation to the campus and will feature presentations by SFA and Nacogdoches ISD faculty members, according to Dr. Ron Anderson, director of SFA's School of Music and founding director of the institute.

Presenters include Karen Gagnon, director of Michigan's "Cool Cities" Initiative; Dr. John Linehard, author and voice of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity" heard on public radio; Dr. Victor Perotti, an innovator in business applications from the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Dr. Sharon Nichols, co-author of "Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America's Schools."

The event will include a one-day pre-conference workshop on Feb. 4 titled "Critical Creative Thinking," featuring Dr. Darlene Boyd, director of the California Gifted Students Academy and past president of the American Creativity Association.

The conference is designed for business, government and education leaders, as well as CEOs managers, team builders, teachers, students and others interested in improving their critical- and creative-thinking skills and seeking solutions to real-world problems.

The primary goal of the new Texas Institute for Creativity and Innovation is to encourage creativity at all levels of the university by identifying current models of innovation to be highlighted and replicated across the campus, Anderson said.

"To compete in what some are now calling the 'creative economy,' the next generation of graduates will need high-level skills in creative and innovative thinking," he said. "If the United States wishes to remain the global economic leader well into the future, it will need to remain the leader in developing important new ideas. Otherwise, it may well find itself being the copier rather than the copied."

Another purpose of the new institute at SFA is to work directly with the public schools in Texas to develop models of creativity and innovation that can be replicated statewide, Anderson said. He explained that creativity experts point to the value of teaching creativity while lamenting that too often the natural curiosity and inquisitiveness found in young children are "taught out of them" in the name of strictly following the rules and the need for classroom conformity.

"We feel passionately at TICI that it is vital to retrain current teachers to embrace and encourage many more school activities that promote the development of creative and innovative skills in our children and youth," he said. "But what in the end may be even more vital for our country is to graduate a new generation of public school teachers for whom student curiosity is encouraged, a new generation that expects creative risk-taking for their students and is not afraid of children who 'color outside the lines.'"

Online registration as well as additional information about the schedule, presenters and special activities is available at the conference Web site: www.TexasCreativity.org. All activities will take place in the Baker Pattillo Student Center.