Creativity & Innovation First-Year Requirement

Creativity & Innovation is a shared requirement of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School.

Courses in Creativity & Innovation (CI) draw from every discipline at Suffolk, but they all have something in common: no matter the course topic, you’ll focus on the creative process—on learning by doing.

Research solidly shows that education in one area—like art or music, strengthens you in another—like math or language. The particular CI course you choose matters far less than what they all have in common. What matters is what you learn: the creative habits, the process skills, the ability to collaborate and communicate both to a team of peers and to an outside audience. You will bring those skills to whatever you go on to do. Because the CI courses focus on process over product, each course is calibrated for anyone—even if they have no experience in that particular subject. This can be a great opportunity to try out a focus you don’t expect to be part of your major. It’s also a chance to see connections between academic disciplines that seem totally unrelated.

Popular course themes have included:

  • Catastrophe Management: From 9/11 to the Marathon Bombing
  • Dreams, Demons, and Dynamic Art
  • The Entrepreneur’s Cocktail
  • The End of Global Poverty
  • Failing Successfully
  • Making Inventions: Sticking Your Neck Out
  • Poetry Out Loud
  • Riddles of Identity
  • Skepticism & Reality
  • Think Small: Change the World
  • and more!

Our Mission

CI classes provide students with a multi-disciplinary approach to creative problem solving and teaches transferrable skills to support students’ creativity in other classes, their everyday life, and whatever their career path may be. As a result, students will become more resilient, effective collaborators, and confident life-long learners.

Course Goals

Upon completion of a CI course, students will understand that:

  • We all have the potential to be creative
    • Define creativity based on theories and practice
    • Recognize potential for thinking and acting creatively
  • Problems can be solved in creative ways
    • Recognize characteristics of an environment that supports creativity and innovation
    • Employ a range of creative tools and strategies to solve problems
    • Approach problem solving iteratively through reflection, testing, and critiquing until feasible solutions are found
  • Collaboration cultivates creativity
    • Identify the characteristics of effective interpersonal communication
    • Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills
    • Identify skills needed for effective teamwork
    • Demonstrate effective teamwork skills
  • Resilience and taking risks are important elements in the creative process
    • Increase tolerance for risk-taking
    • Demonstrate the ability to learn from temporary failure


The Creativity & Innovation program is governed by a committee of faculty and deans from both CAS & SBS and is led by two co-chairs.

Joanna Trainor
Management & Entrepreneurship (SBS)

Nichole Vatcher
Psychology (CAS)