Breadth Students Get Creative

By: Prof. Patrice Esson (Psychology)

The Setting: A chilly Friday afternoon at the beginning of April, 2016.

The Scene: The Student Union’s Leadership Symposium – a large meeting room with three walls of windows and awkwardly placed columns in the Living Arts Centre, Mississauga. Ten round tables with 8 chairs each with sticky notes, markers, slinkies, and other toys.

The Characters: Professors Jennifer Phenix and Patrice Esson, Associate Dean Sean McNabney, representatives from the SSU and Student Services, the two architects (both named Daniel), Jennifer’s entire Introduction to Studies in Creativity class and Patrice’s entire Group Dynamics and Creative Problem Solving Facilitation class. Over 100 hundred people were present.

The Challenge: Envision what might be placed in the new Student Life Building (2A) to be built at the HMC Campus.

What happened: The Daniels gave a brief introduction, describing the building and its purpose. They gave the students tabula rasa (a blank slate) and challenged them to fill the space. The Daniels and SSU wanted ideas! They wanted to know what the students would love to have in their new Student Life Building…and ideas they got…thousands of them!

With Sean, Patrice and Jennifer guiding in the background, the students from Patrice’s Group Dynamics and Creative Problem Solving Facilitation course served as table facilitators leading the brainstorming while the students from Jennifer’s Introduction to Studies in Creativity course served as the idea generating machines (also known as the resource group). The energy in the room was contagious. The sound was that of an improv jazz group: cacophony somehow becoming melody.

The outcome: The walls, the doors, and the windows were covered with thousands of sticky notes each bearing a potential idea. Most of these ideas were generated by the students! The student excitement and appreciation at the opportunity to have a say in the Sheridan of the future was palpable!

The Daniels and the SSU representatives were impressed with our students’ abilities to lead and effectively execute brainstorming sessions and generate ideas. They took away an in-depth understanding of what students wanted in their Student Life Building, and the students went home feeling a sense of accomplishment and, more importantly, an understanding of how what they are learning in their classroom makes a difference to their futures.

*This piece was supposed to have run in our Spring/Summer 2016 issue but fell victim to an editorial oversight. The editor offers his apologies to Dr. Esson.