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Cornerstone University Launches Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute

News Oct. 24, 2017

As creativity becomes a more prevalent skill desired by employers and business leaders, Cornerstone University is launching an initiative for students to excel in the marketplace after graduation.

The Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute, or CIHI, is a unique program giving high-achieving students an opportunity to receive a classical liberal arts education integrated with content in creativity and innovation.

The program is morphing three main aspects into one curriculum:

  • Practical training in creativity and innovation with an emphasis in design thinking, creative habits and innovative techniques.
  • An interdisciplinary approach to examining issues and problems from a variety of perspectives and disciplines to enable you to become a better problem solver.
  • Reading of the “Great Books” to help you consider your civic and vocational responsibility.

“We are pioneering this,” said Don Perini, director of CIHI and professor of creativity and innovation. “While there are schools that have courses in creativity, no one is doing this.”

“I am excited about the curriculum because of what it will do for the students,” added Perini. “I am excited about the interdisciplinary approach that prepares them to think more holistically instead of compartmentally. And, I am excited about the opportunities that will be afforded to these students once they graduate because I know people are wanting to hire them.”

Perini is working with Dr. Michael Stevens, professor of English and co-director of the honors program, to kick off this elite cohort of 25 students beginning Fall 2018. CIHI replaces the current honors program and provides a new opportunity for students in the changing age.

“I’m very excited about this program and its ability to attract high achieving students to Cornerstone University,” Shawn Newhouse, vice president of traditional undergraduate academics, said. “In addition to discipline-specific expertise, employers continue to tell us that they are looking for grads that can meet the challenges of today’s marketplace through creativity and innovation. CIHI meets this need.”

According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, 95 percent of employers prioritize innovation among their hiring preferences.

“In Daniel Pink’s book ‘A Whole New Mind,’ he talks about how we have moved from the Industrial Age and the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. What are the skills needed to flourish and thrive in today’s marketplace? It’s creative skills and innovative skills, not the old knowledge skills or the factory skills,” Perini explained.

“That book and others out there talk about it. I have a ton of books screaming ‘This is what’s coming.’ If you want to do well in our culture and in the marketplace, you need to have creativity and innovation.”

The development of creativity and innovation becoming a major began around ten years ago by Perini when he first initiated the original course due to the influence the course information has had on him.

“This has been a process, it hasn’t just been brand new,” Perini said. “There was a time where creativity and innovation started as an elective course, then it became a required course in the core, then it grew to become a minor and now a major. We’ve already had a student get a job who was hired specifically because she had the creativity and innovation minor. That only goes to show employers are looking for this.”

Creativity and innovation serves as a secondary major and must be complemented with a primary major. However, students accepted into the program will opt out of most of the general education classes and receive a new list of core classes focusing on creativity and innovation.

“Part of my own testimony is ‘why do I do this?’ It’s because in my studies of creativity and innovation, it’s done something to me,” Perini said. “It’s changed how I think, and it’s changed how I work. It’s helped me to be more productive. It’s helped me to create unique and captivating and useful and redemptive work. And that’s what I want for my students.”

Participation in CIHI is by acceptance only and limited to 25 students per cohort. Incoming first-year students (cumulative 3.5 high school grade-point average or above) and transfer students (3.2 college grade-point average) are invited to apply.

Interested students must receive admission to CU and complete the online CIHI application. For priority consideration, submit an application by Dec. 15. Only 25 spots are available.

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