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Creative Research Center

CRC 2.0 – The Next Five Years – by Neil Baldwin

Posted in: Director's Essay

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September 2015

In July of 2010, I breathed a sigh of gratitude when the Montclair State University Board of Trustees formally approved the establishment of The Creative Research Center.

Five years have gone by — and we are still here.

Much has been accomplished; however, there is no doubt that much, much more remains to be done.

That is why we are conceptualizing CRC 2.0.

As I review our informing principles, they still do hold true: to serve as an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary forum/platform for works — and words — predicated upon the uses of the imagination among students, faculty and administration. The CRC was born, and lives, in The College of the Arts; but the arts are not the sole exemplars of the imagination. We have reached out and will continue to do so across the entire campus. In my earliest prospectus for the CRC, I said that our commentary would be a rich combination of voices from within and outside the University community; however, as the years have passed, I have found, much to my continuing delight, that — although our annual Symposia on the Imagination in all its forms have brought a multitude of personalities into the mix — there are more than enough fine minds right here on our home ground to populate the CRC.

Another major component of our early mission that has become more important over time is the CRC as an archive for the imagination. This purpose has grown in tandem with the exponential growth of the Web as a valid place for scholarship. Five years ago, I had to struggle to make this case. Now, it is self-evident, and the concomitant “problem” has become one of excess, giving rise to the intensified curatorial function of the CRC. We want to continue to be regarded, and respected, as a highly-selective and conscientiously-edited site, where content is refined through collegial interaction with our contributors, where the long form thrives, where students will continue to play a foregrounded role, and where junior faculty can feel secure that they will find a respected platform for their work.

I don’t know whether it’s because I have been a college professor now for almost a decade and therefore am sensitive to a life in academe that I never had before — but, whatever the reason, I cannot go through one day of my resolutely mediacentric, information-addicted life without coming across a dark declaration that we are in the midst of “the end of college as we know it” or being told to stand accountable to the underlying existential question, “What is college for [or worth]?”

Facing these issues and questions fracturing the facade of higher education, I will conclude this piece by saying that as CRC 2.0 gears up for the next stage of its institutional existence, I most certainly do not believe that it is the end of college. I believe it is the beginning of a commitment that all of us in the teaching profession must make to our students: We must teach them to learn how to learn, transcending the subject matter in which we specialize. Insofar as what college is “for,” I believe it is a place where our students should be given the opportunity to discover and understand and exploit the workings of their inner (i.e., imaginative) landscapes so that when they graduate they are equipped to face the world with the strong mentality of intrepid, undaunted explorers.

— N. B.

Neil Baldwin, PhD