Famed choreographer, dancer and director Twyla Tharp opened the Bucknell Forum’s new speaker series, “Creativity: Outside the Box,” Tuesday night in an inspired departure from the Forum’s previous topics of politics and global leadership.  Instead of focusing on what we as students should know in order to become active and educated citizens, the series highlights the goal to harness and refine the creativity already within us. It is this return to basics and to the arts that we found most satisfying about the new theme.

The new series on creativity puts the focus back on the arts, which have often been neglected in the past. The University boasts a number of creative outlets and resources that few students take advantage of. The Weis Center Series, for example, brings a variety of diverse cultural experiences to campus for the benefit of students and community members alike. The performance center itself is a visual and architectural masterpiece, with its glossy exterior and spiral staircase. Other resources include the Samek Art Gallery, sequestered on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center and the Sigfried Weis Music Building, which houses a library, keyboard composition laboratories, percussion studios, numerous practice rooms as well as the Natalie Davis Rooke Recital Hall. And then there’s the Craft Center, where students can experiment with new artistic media and direct their creative energies.

The Bucknell Forum’s speaker series revives and affirms interest in the artssomething that is especially important in times of recession, when the arts budget is usually cut first. It is our sincere hope that the Campus Master Plan, with its inclusion of a new arts building, will sustain and bring the arts back to center stage, bringing a more enriching, cultural experience to the University.

But creativity infiltrates all disciplines, not just what is traditionally viewed as the arts. Creativity can be applied in engineering, management, the sciences and the social sciences. As Tharp said in her lecture Tuesday, creativity is most simply a way to turn ideas into reality. The new series reminds us to engage in an interdisciplinary approach to learning, critical thinking and problem solving–a core principle of a liberal arts institution.

The University is, after all, a liberal arts institution, and its mission statement reads, “Bucknell is a unique national university where liberal arts and professional programs complement each other. Bucknell educates men and women for a lifetime of critical thinking and strong leadership characterized by intellectual exploration, creativity and imagination.” The selection of “Creativity: Outside the Box” as the theme of the new Bucknell Forum series accomplishes just this.

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