Practical inspiration (1 of 2)

September 27, 2012

Your article "The richly creative will repay support, says CIHE head" (News, 20 September) rightly stresses the need for interdisciplinary research and links between the arts and engineering. I spent my career in operational research in management, which uses scientific methods to solve management problems and was born of an interdisciplinary approach and "joined-up thinking". But I take exception to the implication that creativity is the preserve of the "creative industries". Rather, it is an essential attribute of all areas of research and application, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Science would never progress without the creativity of the conscious and subconscious mind. It is the sense of wonder, of enquiring, of trying to find breakthroughs, of jumping traditional or disciplinary boundaries that epitomises the best of the creativity of the method.

While some groups can still try to claim creativity as the prerogative of the arts, this merely shows that science education needs to concentrate less on the digestion of facts and more on the mixed, messy, detailed processes by which science progresses. The beauty is that there is no straight line: rather there are many dead ends and the dissonance of firm espousal coupled with deep questioning. In short, science is a great creative process and case studies in current and historical practice can offer a flavour of this. The University of Surrey physicist Jim Al-Khalili's Radio 4 series The Life Scientific offers great insights into the process and its mix of perspiration and inspiration.

Dick Martin, London

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry