A list of thoughts & inspirations

  • Imagination as generative.  What can “it” possibly be?
  • Variable and rich in detail
  • intentional
  • vividness and energy
  • Def from Barrow:  effective and unusualness in thinking.  Not simply novel but evaluated for effectiveness
  • Imagination is the intersection of creative and critical thinking.
  • Ideas: self-actualizing – being in control of your own destiny
  • Reasons why?  Becoming autonomous to see
  • Imaginatively engaged learning gives pleasure
  • Builds social virtues of tolerance and justice
  • Freeing to be able to plan and to shape.

Incorporating Imaginative Education into the Culture and Curriculum at the Post-Secondary Level


One of the strongest contemporary advocates for educating for creativity is Kieran Egan, an educational philosopher who for nearly three decades has promoted a theory of Imaginative Education (IE, 1988).  As an educational theory that addresses philosophical questions such as the aim of education as well practical matters pertaining to curriculum and instruction, IE is difficult to summarize succinctly. Suffice it to say that proponents of the theory intend to apply the many facets of imagination to remake education into to a “system that enables the unusual and effective to flourish wherever possible” (IERG, 2008). There is a considerable body of research indicating that both students and teachers benefit greatly from imaginative teaching and learning. However, the findings have largely come from schools with learners in Kindergarten through high school. Thus there is a dearth of investigation as to how IE might be used in colleges and universities to allow the “the unusual and effective to flourish” (IERG, 2008). This paper presents the work of one grass roots faculty development group as it learned about and sought to implement aspects of IE into their university curriculum and culture.

Antecedents to Incorporation of Imaginative Education

In 2006 three colleagues at Georgia College, a public liberal arts university, developed a series of learning modules to use to “redeliver” content on course design as a result of a professional development institute that we had attended, Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER). Central to SENCER practice is the use of contested, capacious social issues to teach science content in an interdisciplinary manner with the purpose of sustaining democratic social ideals. As a public liberal arts institution a major component of Georgia College’s mission is to educate an engaged citizenry, which will have the continued capacity and desire to participate in the democracy. And as professional higher educators we continually challenge ourselves to make our collaboration purposeful, sustainable, and to embody the integrity and agency we expect from others who join us in this mission. Those two dynamics together served as a catalyst for considering the construct of creativity through the work of Kieran Egan’s Imaginative Education Research Group, the process of which we undertook at Georgia College and which we elaborate in this paper.

From this initial foray into course design and effective teaching our inclusive collective, known as the Innovative Course-building Group, IC-bG has grown to over 20 participants and expanded to foster faculty development for multiple issues related to teaching and learning. For instance we have facilitated workshops on our own and other campuses, sponsored a faculty discourse series, participated in ongoing collegial conversations to understand our context and our growth, have been invited speakers to a conference regarding ingenuity and change, and have recently successfully executed our first professional development institute that focused on innovation in teaching. Concurrent with the expansion of IC-bG Georgia College has completed revision of the general education curriculum outcomes and introduced new general education requirements for freshmen to focus on critical thinking and cultural perspectives,

As founding members of IC-bG and newly returned from the SENCER 2012 summer institute we have had opportunity to investigate various theories, frameworks, and models that will help realize our vision of liberal arts education that fosters democratic ideals and a well prepared faculty to enact the vision. One such potent model is Imaginative Education, theorized, refined and advanced by Kieran Egan for over 25 years. Over time he has thoroughly detailed the various reasons for, effective means by which, and uncovered nuanced meanings of imagination. In short he is one of the few who has developed a fundamental theory of teaching and learning that entails the aims of and processes for education grounded in understanding of humanity. In arguing for the significance of imagination for learning Egan has written, “Stimulating the imagination is not an alternative educational activity to be argued for in competition with other claims; it is a prerequisite to making any activity educational (2005, p. 212, emphasis ours). Regrettably Egan’s theory, as well considered and potentially transformative as it is, is not well known or utilized in the United States and as far as we can determine, rarely considered for incorporation into post-secondary curricula.

Faculty led faculty development

Qualitative Assessment of climate of the faculty – 5 years (

Georgia College is an institution with a culture of transition.  From 1889, when GC was charted as the Georgia Normal and Industrial College for women, GC has had six names and three distinct missions.  Most recently, in 1996, the University was awarded a radically new mission as the state’s designated public liberal arts college along with membership in the Council of Public Liberal Arts College (COPLAC). With the recent mission change, the faculty increased significantly in size as the emphasis was placed on a liberal arts core curriculum. In the last three years, the institution has seen turnover in many high-level administration positions coincide with budget concerns at the state level. [DO I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT CETL?]  This instability in leadership and structure combined with stymied professional development has had important impacts on the faculty culture.  As the institution attracts a new breed of faculty person interested in the liberal arts mission and transformative undergraduate education, the opportunities to explore and discuss issues of teaching and learning in an academic setting have not kept pace.  [AND IN WALKS ICBG TO SAVE THE DAY] This sentiment will be worked into the “antecedents” by Karynne as will an assessment of how the students have changed


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