Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Innovative course exploring creative process heads to France

The notice may be short, but the memories could last a lifetime.

The University’s breakthrough course “Creative Process” is heading across the Atlantic to the Abbey of Pontlevoy, France, from May 18-June 12. For four weeks, students will be immersed in a personal and group journey where they will visualize imaginative concepts, create original sound and movement works, define innovative spatial constructs, and invent computerized mechanics.

Deadline to enroll for the trip is March 20. The course is open to all U-M undergraduate students.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students, and an opportunity to be beyond the campus — and U.S. borders — totally immersed in exploring their own unique response to the creative process,” says Mary Schmidt, associate dean for academic affairs and undergraduate education at the School of Art & Design.

“As one current student said, ‘I always thought creativity was for those who could pick up a pencil and draw,” she says. “‘This course has taught me that I, too, am creative in my own way. We all are.’ His testimony is priceless.”

At the heart of the learning experience is cultivating open-mindedness and critical awareness of various expressive techniques and, subsequently, the creative possibilities suited to the individual student as he or she seeks solutions and a means for self-expression, Schmidt says.

The current four-credit course blends various disciplines in an exploration of sound, visual art, motion, spatial constructs and mechanics. The class, which meets for six hours on Fridays, is taught by four two-member instructor teams, and presents lectures, hands-on activities and meditation as a means for individual students to comprehend the multidisciplinary quality of creativity.

The intensive four-week study is led by faculty members from the School of Art & Design (A&D); School of Music, Theatre & Dance; Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning (TCAUP); and College of Engineering (CoE). Pontlevoy is located about 150 miles southwest of Paris.

U-M is among the first universities in the country to offer a course dedicated to the creative process.

“The class is structured to look beyond any one discipline and teach students how see the commonality of creative process across all disciplines,” says Bryan Rogers, dean of A&D.

The effort to establish the course was led by Rogers, along with Christopher Kendall, dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; Doug Kelbaugh, former dean of TCAUP; and David Munson, dean of CoE.

“The course demystifies the creative process,” Rogers says. “Creative expression occurs in all fields. Our aim is to cultivate the many forms of creativity so our students can learn to develop and recognize what could be breakthrough moments for them in their lives.”

The course was developed through a grant from the Multidisciplinary Learning and Team Teaching Initiative.

For more information about the program go to, or for more about the Abbey, which is now an educational center, go to

To sign up for the trip, contact Mary Schmidt at 764-0397, or