Announced with pride by Dean Geoffrey Newman of the College of the Arts, a unique, born-digital, interdisciplinary Web site spotlighting Montclair State University students' creative work, as well as encouraging diverse collaborations across disciplines -- and beyond -- was launched last April: The Creative Research Center.
The site, montclair.edu/creativeresearch is a virtual forum to promote and publicize "large-scale conversations," said Dr. Neil Baldwin, professor in the Department of Theater and Dance and the Center's founding director. Also aiming for a broad public audience, the CRC is designed to inspire discussions about the nature of the imagination and creativity across all fields of knowledge.
"We want to feature and spotlight the works of others -- including our most precious resource, our students -- and encourage collaborations across schools of thought," Baldwin said. "We respect the academic distinctions between fields while, at the same time, will explore the humanistic qualities that unite us all."
Each month, a pair of essays is posted on the CRC site and made available for response and commentary. At the conclusion of each posting period, the two essays and their responses are moved to the CRC's vast and expansive Web Bibliography - Living Document archives to make way for the next entries on the site.
In addition to the Web Bibliography, the Virtual Student Center, and topical blogs by the CRC Director and guest essayists, the CRC also features an ever-growing roster of links to like-minded visionary organizations and individuals around the world dedicated to deeper understanding of the permeable nature of human knowledge and information.
In just the first six months of its new life, the CRC has established liaisons with institutional digital pioneers around the world, including Art and Science Collaborations, Inc.; Arts and Humanities in Higher Education; the Association for Integrative Studies at Miami University; the Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis; the Consortium on Fostering Interdisciplinarity at the University of Minnesota; Critical Approaches to Culture + Communications + Hypermedia at McGill University; the CUNY Baccalaureate in Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies; Educause; HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory); H-NET (Humanities and Social Sciences Online); The Institute for Figuring; the New Media Consortium; MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching); the New Learning and New Literacies Online Masters Program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; The Georgia Tech "PIN"/Philosophy of/as Interdisciplinarity Network; and the Transliteracy Research Group.
MSU and its innovative efforts in creating the CRC have also received heartening praise and encouragement from academic leaders and scholarly innovators such as Gary Hall, Professor of Media and Performing Arts at Coventry University, co-editor of Culture Machine and co-founder of Open Humanities Press; Laura Brown, Executive VP for Strategy and Research at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Ithaka; Warren Sack, director of the Social Computing Lab at UCSC; media artist and artist-in-residence Simon Penny at the Segal Institute for Human Centered Design in Northwestern University: Ramsay Burt in the Dance Department at DeMontfort University in Leicester; Julie Thompson Klein, general editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity; and Jonathan Reams the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the editor of the Integral Review – among others.
For the spring 2011 semester, the CRC plans to enlist the MSU Honors Program, encompassing undergraduates from all sectors of the campus community, ranging from the arts and humanities to science and math, to participate in a student-dedicated online forum, "What Imaginative Project Are You Working on—Right Now?"
"Our vision is to engender and nurture an expansive cultural dialogue that crosses physical boundaries and takes the shape of a virtual symposium," Baldwin said. "The culmination of this inaugural series of interactions will be a virtual and 'real' convocation on October 12, 2011, right here on the MSU Campus: The Uses of the Imagination in the Post-9/11 World."