Monday, November 30, 2009

Top Global Thinkers of 2009 ... Who's on your list?

Who's on your list of important thinkers from 2009?
[December 2009 - Foreign Policy] The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers: From the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Read on to see the 100 minds that mattered most in the year that was. More (The List)

Monday, November 23, 2009

New, Free Book - Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain

[23 November 2009 - Dana Foundation] Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain, the culmination of a summit sponsored by The Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Neuro-Education Initiative, focuses on the convergence of neuroscientific research and teaching and learning, with an emphasis on the arts. This free publication features a prolegomenon by the late Dana Chairman William Safire and full text of the keynote address given by Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., Harvard University, at the Hopkins summit. Highlights of the symposium are featured in an executive summary, edited transcripts of panel presentations, and a synthesis of roundtable discussions. Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain is available free by written request on institutional letterhead. Please make certain your request contains a complete telephone number-including area code-and a full street address. (We cannot ship to P.O. Boxes). Requests should be mailed or faxed to:
Johanna Goldberg
Dana Foundation
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 900
New York, NY 10151
Fax: (212) 317-8721
You may also e-mail your request to: Please include your institutional and mailing information. More

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creative Aging Field Loses One of Its Key Leaders: In Memory of Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D.

[10 November 2009 - National Center for Creative Aging] Last Saturday night, we lost one of our key leaders in the field of creative aging – more so our very dear friend. NCCA was blessed to have been closely associated with Dr. Cohen not only as one of the founding members of the Board of Directors but as our faculty host at George Washington University, where both NCCA and his Center on Aging, Health and Humanities are housed within the Health Sciences Department. NCCA came into this partnership to bring Dr. Cohen’s and other outstanding researchers work into practice. It has been a great honor to work closely with Dr. Cohen and his brilliant work. On the behalf of the National Center for Creative Aging, we look forward to building upon Dr. Cohen’s legacy with you to move the paradigm of aging from problem to potential. In association with the Gerontological Society of America, where Dr. Cohen served as President in1997, NCCA will announce next week the formation of the Gene D. Cohen Research Award in Creative Aging at the GSA Annual conference in Atlanta . We will be releasing further details as plans progress and ask for your support in continuing Dr. Cohen’s research through promoting this award opportunity and other tributes that will be developing within our field in honor of him. We have included the family’s obituary and a photograph for your further information and distribution. Gene touched so many lives and leaves us with such a rich legacy on which to continue his work to improve the quality of life for older people. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Cohen’s family. We are also working with George Washington University as caretakers for the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities which will continue in a robust form to advance Dr. Cohen’s scholarship. With sympathy, Gay Hanna, Executive Director, National Center for Creative Aging - More

Making of Me: Creativity is vital in shaping our futures ... families are fundamental in developing it

[2 November 2009 - DEMOS (UK) - By Jen Lexmond and Shelagh Wright] Creativity and cultural engagement are essential ingredients in making our individual and collective lives rich. They are both key to developing and dependent on the social capital that is so vital in mobility and life chances. The terms creativity and culture are acknowledged as tricky to define, but the domains they describe, however disputed, are widely recognized as crucial to our futures. The Oxford English Dictionary defines creativity as ‘involving the use of the imagination or original ideas in order to create something’ and culture as ‘one, the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. Two, a refined understanding or appreciation of this. Three, the customs, institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or group’. Many commentators and researchers have argued that creativity and culture make more prosperous and cohesive societies.They provide accounts of how talent flows and grows. What we have been less good at is understanding how to nurture that talent and potential in the first place. The role of families is fundamental. This paper looks at how families could be better supported and how we might get more from our existing investments in this area. We ask questions about what should be done as a stimulant for the kinds of ideas we need. More


[10 November 2009 - Discovery Channel] ... Psychologists like Freud and Jung have long cashed in on the potency of dreams and how they may reflect our inner emotional lives. But new research suggests dreams may simply be the brain, well, taking a jog. Just as a morning run can help tune up the body, dreaming may be the brain's way of tuning up the mind while conscious thoughts aren’t dominating the circuits. More

Monday, November 02, 2009

Art and Its Cultural Contradictions

This essay raises questions about the role of the artist/creative engaging in neighborhoods, communities and cities. How do they participate and involve? How much time in the community "counts"? How can artists/creatives have the most meaningful impact?
[Autumn/Winter 2009 - "Art and Its Cultural Contradictions" in Afterall] PREAMBLE: A FLOOD OF QUESTIONS: What is at stake when artists, architects, curators, organisers and other cultural producers facilitate bricks-and-mortar change, on the ground in cities, with citizens, communities and institutions? How do we test the interrelationships between the practices of artists and urban policy makers? What is the metric that we might utilise to determine effectiveness? And what do we mean by effectiveness? Critical effect? (Or, for that matter, critical affect?) The putatively emancipatory outcome generated by some kind of new situational knowledge? Or, is it a question of generating ambiguity, per se, as a means of problematising hegemonic political, economic and cultural formations?

Is it conceivable to imagine that the cultural and intellectual capital of artistic labour can generate sustained, and sustainable, responsiveness to urban crises that would offer palpable functionality (or applicability) for people's lives - contra to the useful uselessness of the aesthetic condition that is supposedly ennobling of mind and spirit, or generative of disinterestedness as a prerequisite for absorption and contemplation? Have we taken into consideration that as art critics, art historians, curators and art theorists we might be misapplying criteria of aesthetic evaluation in relation to the evaluation of art projects that arise from sometimes uncomfortable, difficult circumstances? Is it perhaps just a question of re-calibrating our criteria of evaluation or, at the very least, how we communicate to others our experience of a specific work within a particular situation, so that criteria remain sufficiently fluid and tactical? What does it mean to encounter a work of art in the midst of economic and social ruination?

This essay seeks to raise such questions on the occasion of and in relation to a new biennial (Prospect.1) and a new cultural initiative (Transforma Projects), both of which emerged in New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina disaster that in 2005 flooded 80 per cent of the city, and killed nearly 2,000 people, as efforts claiming to engage in the regeneration, rebuilding and revitalisation of various aspects of that city's cultural, economic and social life. Prospect.1 and Transforma Projects are distinct from each other in terms of ideological and organisational strategies and infrastructures: the former presenting itself as the first international biennial in New Orleans (i.e. event-oriented), with official support from local and state government and major art world benefactors, and a more conventional 'top-down' hierarchical curatorial/exhibition process; the latter operating as a small cultural initiative on an emphatically grass roots level, involving 'bottom-up' socially participatory processes (i.e. rethinking normative institutional hierarchies) to generate and utilise art projects as a means of facilitating social rebuilding within economically and socially disenfranchised communities in the city, yet also supported by major art foundations.

Authentic education is always experimental

An old blog post from "The Speed of Creativity" blog, but an important one worth revisiting. What examples of authentic education and learning are you leading? Participating in? Creating?
[8 April 2006 - The Speed of Creativity] In the educational, classroom environment, authentic education is always experimental. This is because teaching is an art, not a science. Many, many people sadly mistake the purpose of the educational enterprise as mere content transmission. Much of the curriculum standards which dominate the educational landscape today [...] are based on this faulty assumption. Like E.D. Hirsh, I agree there are some common things with which people should be acquainted in order to be “culturally literate.” I do not agree, however, that schools should take those “laundry lists” of names and events and seek to make kids memorize and regurgitate those facts on multiple choice examinations. I do not think an understanding of the need for “cultural literacy” should lead to a shallowing of the curriculum, which remains a mile wide and an inch deep. To the contrary, authentic teaching and learning should be ALL ABOUT learning in depth through engaging conversations and activities. To create this type of teaching and learning environment, it is implicit that teachers must experiment. Authentic teaching and learning are experimental activities because the environment of the classroom is inherently dynamical and chaotic, like global weather patterns. More