Social interaction can provide creative learning environments

Social interaction can provide creative learning environments


Creative learning environments are essential for those who are to be trained for future environmental and social challenges. How to best design such environments, Sol Morén, Umeå University, has investigated. Her solution is “relational creativity”, where the students develop their creativity through social interaction.

Creativity, as well as complex problem solving, is considered essential competencies for sustainable development and is therefore highlighted in programs for future education, both at the European Union and at UNESCO.

– In light of this global education agenda, I mean that it is important to research design for creative learning environments in contemporary education science. However, there is not much previous research to build on when it comes to, for example, the design of creative learning environments, i.e. learning environments that support students’ development of creativity as competence, says Sol Morén, himself an artist. In a new thesis at Umeå University, he studied the importance of learning environments that support students’ development of creativity as a competence.

Social interaction affects creativity
– To understand more about how we should be able to create the conditions for students to develop creativity, I believe that we need to look more closely at what is going on in creative learning environments and creative education processes. I also argue that it makes sense to investigate how social interaction and social relations between students affect their creative processes if we are interested in understanding more about design for creative learning environments.

In the dissertation, Sol Morén examines creativity from such a socio-relational and process-oriented perspective, with the help of and through participatory art-oriented practices.

– The first time I started thinking about the concept of relational creativity was when I, as an artist, worked with participation art in education. I felt that there was a connection between the students’ creativity and their involvement in the participation of art projects. The purpose of the thesis is to develop a practically-based theory of relational creativity as a design concept for creating learning environments.

Four design concepts
The thesis presents the theory of relational creativity through four design concepts:

  • Design for creative transformation – by taking advantage of art’s interpretation of space and openness for new, unexpected solutions.
  • Design for creative participation – by showing confidence in and inviting the participants to contribute to a universal creation of art and knowledge.
  • Design for productive comparative meetings – by offering environments that give the participants the courage to create and which are exempt from appraising evaluations.
  • Design for creative networking – as in facilitating participants to interact, share and contribute to each other’s processes of art and meaning creation.
  • The ambition of the dissertation is to contribute with knowledge of relational creativity as a design concept for creative learning environments within university education, which can be of use for the educational practice as well as for the research community.