Creative and Transformative Education for Doctoral Students?

Two public educational institutions are collaborating on a joint proposal for a doctoral program in what might come to be called "Creative and Transformative Education." As is the case for any proposed program, it will be necessary to convince authorities that there would be student demand for such a program and there would be jobs for the graduates. It hardly needs to be said that being convincing to authorities is more difficult for a program that sounds unconventional than it is for say, sociology or for computer science. So the core faculty in the two institutions are looking for help in their effort. To this end, the faculty have decided not to do the obvious, which would be to identify themselves and their location, detail the courses they have on the books, and ask the CE participants to contribute specifically targeted text and arguments. Instead, they want the CE participants to be free to a) expose a variety of possibly competing views of "Creative," "Transformative," and their combination; b) draw employment possibilities from their own location in the world; and c) do blue-sky thinking about what kind of mid-career or mid-life creative and transformative education that would attract their personal interest. The desired products of the CE inquiries are, simply, succinct statements (with supporting documentation or references) of what something that might be called Creative and Transformative Education could be for doctoral students and how it could further the careers of such students. The core faculty of the two institutions will digest these statements and use them (giving appropriate acknowledgements) to inform discussions with the rest of the faculty about the emphasis to make in their proposal. It may even be that this indirect approach to getting help will bear fruit in CE participants going on to develop allied educational initiatives elsewhere. To this end we will disseminate to the participants the proposal that eventually gets submitted to the authorities.

If you want more background to appreciate why the idea of Creative and Transformative Education needs clarification before it is seen as a serious option for a doctoral program, consider the quotes and sources box below. But, if the broad topic is enough for you to be interested, skip ahead to the section on expectations and mechanics of the CE.
Quotes and sources
Peter C. Taylor of Curtin University's Tranformational Education Research group says:
  • transformative learning comprises five distinct but interconnected ways of knowing.
  • • Cultural-Self Knowing (self realisation) involves coming to understand our culturally situated selves, in particular how the (mostly invisible) premises underpinning our worldview – our shared values, beliefs, ideals, emotionality, spirituality – give rise to our cultural identities and govern our habituated ways of being in, making sense of, and relating to our social and natural worlds.
  • • Relational Knowing (opening to difference) involves learning to connect empathically and compassionately with our true (nonegoic) selves, our local community, the culturally different other, and the natural world.
  • • Critical Knowing (political astuteness) involves coming to understand how and why (political, institutional, economic) power has structured historically our social realities by creating seemingly natural categories of class, race, gender, vocation, intelligence, etc., and how this mostly invisible power governs (especially distorts) our lifeworlds, our relationships with others, and our relationship with the natural world.
  • • Visionary and Ethical Knowing (over the horizon thinking) involves us in creative, inspirational and discursive processes of idealising, imagining, poeticising, romanticising, meditating on and negotiating a collective vision of what a better world could be like and, importantly, what a better world should be like.
  • • Knowing in Action (making a difference) involves consciously developing our capacity to help make the world a better place, committing to making a difference, and taking action locally while thinking globally.
  • from "Transformative Science Teacher Education," to appear in Gunstone, R. (Ed.) (2013). Encyclopedia of science education. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer

The Transformative Education Forum begins, however, not from knowing, but from Human Rights, supplemented by concerns for Sustainability, The Importance of Value Systems: Morality, Ethics and Spirit, Diversity, Economic and Social Justice/Equity, Peace Education and Conflict Resolution, and more -- see

Elias, quoted in wikipedia, puts a different slant again:
  • Transformative learning is the expansion of consciousness through the transformation of basic worldview and specific capacities of the self; transformative learning is facilitated through consciously directed processes such as appreciatively accessing and receiving the symbolic contents of the unconscious and critically analyzing underlying premises.

Finally, in a less systematic way, the very first pass by one of the unnamed public educational institutions at defining a program:
  • [It would] provide its students with knowledge, tools, and research experience to become constructive, reflective leaders in educational innovation, research, and community engagement around creative arts and design, media, facilitation, and pedagogical innovation. The rationale for a doctoral program in Creative and Transformative Education is that, after training and experience in their home fields, many experienced artists and professionals are ready to extend their reach so as to take well-researched and thoughtful roles in teaching, supporting, and collaborating with others to be creative and transformative in their own settings. By establishing creative habits, building a well-organized and sustainable studio or work space, and engaging in their field or community, creative and transformative practitioners make it possible to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, draw new connections, and see how things could be otherwise, to take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise their approaches accordingly.

CE: expectations and mechanics

Whatever thread of inquiry participants in the CE pursue, your posts and contribution to live sessions should aim to stimulate and guide the learning of other participants, and build towards the final product, namely, "succinct statements (with supporting documentation or references) of what something that might be called Creative and Transformative Education could be for mid-career doctoral students and how it could further the careers of such students." The complementary, "experiential" goal is to be impressed at how much can be learned with a small commitment of time using the CE structure to motivate and connect participants.

The CE will take place over 22 days and consists of four sessions spaced one week apart, in which a small group interacts in real time live via google hangout for 60-90 minutes starting May 9, at 9am Thursday US East coast time. Participants spend time between sessions on self-directed inquiry on the case, sharing of inquiries-in-progress, and reflecting on the process (which typically involves shifts in participants' definition of what they want to find out and how). Prospective participants are asked not to sign up if they cannot guarantee live participation in most of the sessions and an equivalent amount of time between sessions spent on the case. (Sessions will be available as a private unlisted youtube for participants who have to miss once.) A public google+ community, open beyond the small group, allows interested people to view any recorded sessions from this and previous CEs, and to share posts, which the small group might draw on in their discussions.

The structure of each live CE session is predefined, but the CE builds in room for participants to take stock so as to inform future proposals for improvements in these structures. Details about the structure and sequence of sections will be supplied to applicants. To apply to participate, complete this form.