Our world conditions us to think of creativity as an attribute that resides within the individual. We talk about a person being, for example, “creative” or “not very creative.” We hold a similar view of intelligence. 

Csikszentmihalyi was, with his Systems Model of Creativity, the first to propose that we are not necessarily viewing creativity accurately. Rather than seeing it as an intraindividual attribute, he argues that it is more meaningfully understood from a systems perspective. 

In Chapter Two from his book Creativity, Csikszentmihalyi, inspired by General Systems Theory, which has had an important impact upon multiple disciplines, addresses the question “where?” (not “what?”) is creativity? 

After you’ve read and thought about the chapter, click on Activity 6: Where is Creativity? Within this topic, click “Create Thread.” Enter an appropriate subject line and in one detailed post, respond to the following questions that apply concepts from your reading to your own situation:

1. Describe the domain in which you hope to work after you graduate from UNI. Concisely summarize the domain’s major rules, procedures, and structure.
2. Describe the field: in this domain, who sets the standards of quality and decides what is a worthy creative contribution to the domain?
3. Our world has changed since Csikszentmihalyi developed his Systems Theory explanation for how creative contributions work their way into a domain and into the culture. This is especially true in the domain of pop entertainment, where the gatekeeping role that was once performed by talent agents and record producers is now, in some cases, performed by the general public. For example, a few years ago, Justin Bieber grabbed a microphone and a videocamera to tape himself signing in his bedroom. He posted it on YouTube and, within weeks, he was a sensation. (Of course, we could argue over whether the Biebs is, in fact, Big C Creative. At a minimum, though, he has made a cultural impact.)
Due to social media, there has been a democratization in the process some people have taken to influence culture. Can you think of other examples of persons who have become sensations by doing an end-run around the traditional gatekeepers? Is this a good thing? I’m very interested in your thinking about this, so take this activity where you like.
If you’d like, for a video that covers some of what is in the chapter, you can watch the talk “The Creative Person and the Creative Context” that Csikszentmihalyi gave a UNI a few years ago. You can access it here:

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