Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Creativity, Innovation, Intuition, and Imagination

Instructor: H. David Shuster

a pensive man silohuetted against the sun

Image provided by permission of Dr. Ted Borgeas from his site


"Be skillful in speech, that you may be strong…words are braver than all fighting."
King of Heracleopolis to son Merikare

Images, profound and mundane, great and less so, dance (seemingly randomly) through our minds. We shall embark on a shared liberal education journey inculcating skills for purposefully capturing, interpreting, articulating and creatively using those images in innovative…and often strange, disturbing and exhilarating…ways. No one can make others participate in such enterprises. They can only let them participate…by example, by setting challenging standards and by creating an enabling academic environment.

Expression gives life to ideas. But, no one can delegate involvement. People must speak, listen and synthesize for themselves. Course fulfillment, therefore, demands everyone's consistent attendance and mutually responsive interactive participation.

Words express and communicate ideas, giving form and substance to what otherwise would remain isolated, vague, formless and untransmittable abstractions. But, words merely symbolize ideas. They are not the ideas themselves. Small wonder, then, that we so often misinterpret and misunderstand each other. Symbolic exchange more often clouds, rather than facilitates, intent transference. Language, nonetheless, comprises our most powerful rational and emotive symbolic tool for interpreting, manifesting and sharing ideas. Life without language would certainly condemn us to terrible isolation, to a "…solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" Hobbsian state of nature.

"Individuality of expression is the beginning and end of all art." Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Expected Course Outcome: Students Able To:
…Disengage, Imagine, Inquire, Articulate, Open, Accept, Question…Disengage…

"Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear."
Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

Objective 1 directs us toward demonstrated written and verbal language arts enhancement. Lacking language skills isolates us. Possessing them endows us with one of life's sublime pleasures…and a critical survival mechanism. Language possession is, therefore, its own reward, requiring no extrinsic justification. Students will examine the character of ideas, essays, rhetoric, arguments as lines of reasoning, description, analysis and prescription, and then compare, contrast and critique selected categorized essays in these terms.

Liberal education liberates! Participants discover their unique and essential selves, define their universals, and establish their personal moral compass and profound cosmic orientation…becoming, thereby, less self- and more universe-centered. While language skills remain important, however, they offer little direction without a clear sense of what one desires to express…and why.

"The rote mind solicits data, the analytic mind pursues knowledge, the profound mind envisions meaning."

Objective 2, therefore, requires demonstrated comprehension and expression of students' moral foundation and sense of profound universal prescriptions, i.e., illumination of personal transcendent meaning. This cooperative search involves interpreting assigned readings in terms of selected metaphysical categories, e.g., ontology (reality and being), epistemology (knowledge and truth), aesthetics (beauty, parsimony and symmetry), teleology (origins, destinations and meaning), axiology (values), ethics (value-based rules and norms) and the Fact/Value Dichotomy (possibility of testing the truth or falsity of values as well as facts).

"It is sweet to let the mind unbend on occasion."

Objective 3, building upon the above base, promotes demonstrated comprehension of essential creativity principles and practices including, but not limited to; creative and "white" moments, rational/non-rational processes, intuition and insight, creativity and leadership, naiveté, risk and anxiety, divergent/convergent thinking, creativity killers and evaluation, new ideas/old standards, heuristics and the impractical, innovation and leaps of faith. Students will submit and critique two original written short stories during this course phase. Guest speakers from local government, entertainment and business sectors will discuss how creativity and innovation (applied creativity) influence their work.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Albert Einstein

Objective 4, merging lessons derived to this point, requires each student's original development, and presentation to the class, of a substantial (pre-approved) creative act, including submittal of a separate formal report detailing that act's essential message and meaning, i.e., personal metaphysical significance as defined under objective two. Wide presentation form and style latitude will be given. Students may offer written, verbal, dramatic, musical, dance or construction (architectural, culinary, etc.) composition/performance presentations.

"The best ideas are common property."
Lucius Annaeus Senec

Visiting Panels

Panels of visitors from selected public and private community sectors will attend appointed class sessions to interactively discuss how they creatively conduct and manage their enterprises. Panels include elected and appointed city/county officials, Screen Gems creative and management personnel, industrial organization employees and willing community service volunteers and staff members.

Discussions will illuminate crucial, but too often murky and vaporous, links enabling translation of abstract, intangible and imaginative principles into successful, concrete and tangible behavioral practices.


Socrates said that "Education is not a function of community…it is the community." Liberal education, as self-discovery, places us in universal context, engages our imaginations and endows us with sufficient judgmental perspective to transcend seemingly impassable imaginative limits. This course offers students an intense structured opportunity to explore, uncover and realize their rational, imaginative and creative potential for (in the Landmark Forum's words) probing "…that which we don't know we don't know," and (as "Q" states, below) "…the unknown possibilities of existence:"

"You just don't get it, do you Jean Luc! The Trial never ends!
We wanted to see if you have the ability to expand your mind
and your horizons. For that one fraction of a second, you were
open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration
that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting
the unknown possibilities of existence. See you…'out there!'"
"Q" to Captain Jean Luc Picard
Star Trek, The Next Generation
Final episode; "All Good Things"

Required Texts (Fall 2005)

Goleman, Daniel, Kaufman, Paul & Ray, Michael, The Creative Spirit, (New York: Penguin Books, USA, Inc., 1993).

Gregory, Marshall W. & Booth, Wayne C., Harper & Row Reader, The: Liberal Education Through Reading and

Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland, (New York: Penguin Books, USA, Inc., 1987).

Last Update:February 7, 2017