These questions were born from a classroom project in which we envisioned a new museum that would exhibit art made by the visitors. This experience gave me the inspiration and confidence to pursue a career in arts administration and education. After many career iterations, these same questions brought me to my current position as creative discovery coordinator and student advisor for the Discovery Initiative — an initiative that allows me to address these questions on a large scale, thinking systemically about barriers to creativity.
“Only when we make immersive learning central to every student’s education will I finally get to answer my curiosity question: What would be possible if we all knew we are creative?” — Evelyn Thorne
We know that students today no longer enter into lifelong careers and are facing unprecedented complex global problems that require interdisciplinary solutions. This makes resilience the most important skill any student can develop; we must prepare students not just to think critically, but to be resourceful in the face of change. This is why a 21st-century education requires hands-on immersive learning; students need to build the resilience, adaptability, and creativity to respond to real-world challenges.
Creativity is the process of putting imagination to action. When students take on projects, they learn to imagine their own solutions and then discover what actually works through trial and error, developing lifelong skills that will serve them in any career. We also know that the student body is more diverse than ever — with a higher percentage of first-generation, international, and transfer students who need more guidance and structural support to navigate campus systems. These kinds of hands-on educational experiences must be accessible to everyone, not just a select few.
As the initiative’s tagline states, “Purpose belongs to everyone.” Only when we make immersive learning central to every student’s education will I finally get to answer my curiosity question: What would be possible if we all knew we are creative? Only then can we build the world we want to see. I can’t wait to witness what we create.
Evelyn Thorne is a writer, educator, and facilitator with a focus on how systemic and cultural contexts shape our creative selves. At Berkeley, she specializes in supporting students to realize their creative potential through the Discovery Initiative. Find her writing and trainings at creativityincontext.org.