Video: What is CreateLab?

Innovative Team-Taught Class Encourages Students to Take Risks

Video by Tom Rettig

“CreateLab is… I wouldn’t even call it an experimental course, it’s more of an experiment,” explains  Leah Hager Cohen, Distinguished Writer in Residence at the College, and a CreateLab faculty member.

Operating free from the constraints of a traditional classroom, eight faculty members from various disciplines—economics, sociology, psychology, music and theatre— are teaching 70 students with more than a dozen different majors. The class takes place in a renovated theatre space turned into a think tank or “beehive.” Team-taught by faculty and the College’s visiting artist-in-residence and Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato, this unconventional class encourages students to work cooperatively to produce imaginative projects, which are designed to teach students to be risk-takers, use resourceful thinking, and collaborate on creative work.

Faculty members take turns presenting mini-lectures (individually or jointly); leading discussions on readings and other assigned material; issuing micro-challenges and engaging students in hands-on experimentation with creative prompts and projects.

“It forces you out of your comfort zone. It is a class without boundaries. They [faculty] are challenging you to do things you are not used to,” says Terry McKenna ’15, an economics major in the class.

This innovative pedagogical experiment stemmed from “Arts Transcending Borders,” a new initiative designed to infuse the fine and performing arts in students’ academic lives and create new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community by transcending cultural, geographic and disciplinary boundaries.  The initiative is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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