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MU announces Year of Creativity and Innovation

By Mariah Schlossman, For The Miami Student

Miami University has been increasing efforts to develop the campus and students into a more diverse and advanced community.

Efforts to do this have been highlighted by the creation of themes for the academic school years. The 2011-2012 year was termed the "Year of the Arts," and the 2015-2016 school year is designated as the "Year of Creativity and Innovation."

"The key is to create more opportunities to link and highlight our many efforts, to encourage collaborations and to raise our expectations and capabilities," President David Hodge said in a memo sent out to faculty members Oct. 28, 2014.

Hodge, along with other faculty members, chose creativity and innovation to promote stronger recognition of these elements on campus.

"[Hodge] saw this as an opportunity to highlight these qualities and to create one whole initiative on campus," said Peg Faimon, chair of Miami's Department of Arts and co-chair on the steering committee for the Year of Creativity and Innovation.

The driving force for this theme came from people outside the university, who have devoted much of their time and attention to the themed elements.

"Prospective employers and organizations outside of the community/university level want students who evidently posses the qualities of creativity and innovativeness," Faimon said.

Through the new initiative, Faimon explained many hope Miami is fostering the growth of students who are or will become good at problem-solving, making connections, thinking outside the box and taking risks.

"I think this is really an efficient way to link and highlight the efforts of the university and to encourage collaborations of creativity and innovation with programs on campus," sophomore Amy Berg, a student representative on the steering team for the Year of Creativity and Innovation, said.

The year's elements of creativity and innovation will be incorporated into many aspects of campus life.

Students' curricula will be infused by highlighting the aspects that already exist in certain courses, but may not be extremely prevalent, Faimon said.

"By broadly educating students and promoting participation of innovative thinking, we hope to connect the dots between activities, events and coursework, and inspiring students to become those outside-of-the-box thinkers," Faimon said.

The point of the year isn't necessarily to create new events for creativity and innovation, but rather enhance these aspects in already existing events, programs and classes.

Hodge said he saw the successes of the 2011-2012 Year of the Arts and wished to continue making strides in that respect on campus.

With the Year of the Arts, many things like the Performing Arts Series and the Miami University Design Collaborative were created and enhanced. Faimon said the year did not directly relate to art, but it was something they wanted to reach all aspects of the university, which is the same intention of the Year of Creativity and Innovation.

Faimon mentioned Freedom Summer - the 50th anniversary celebration of civil rights activists training on Miami's campus - as a pre-existing event that was enhanced to have a more significant emphasis on the arts

"We didn't create the event to mirror what we wanted with the Year of Arts," Faimon said, "But we enhanced the arts that were under the surface so that students, faculty and audience members were able to see them and think more about them."

The steering committee will be meeting in the next couple of weeks to clarify the goals and expectations of the year and develop a list of programs, events and activities.

"We would like to see an initiative that has a lasting impact on the campus and the students," Faimon said.