An Original Contribution: Creativity in Academia

The concept of creative inquiry both deals with the academic rigor and the creativity in understanding topics both from a perspective of the heart and the head. It would seem that for many academic institutions, they are either more focused on what Montuori refers to as reproductive education or narcissistic education (Montuori, 2006, 2012; Montuori & Donnelly, 2013). The unpublished paper, “Creativity in Academia” (n.d.) gives a wealth of beneficial academics who are demonstrating the practice of creative inquiry in their writing. These writers come from a diverse set of fields of study, and write about a diverse set of topics.

The very idea of a dissertation, as defined by the “Creativity in Academia” (n.d) and the California Institute of Integral Studies (2017), is defined as a original contribution to the scholars field of study, so for all students who are working on a dissertation are involved necessarily in a creative endeavor. The author describes that the work “doesn’t have to be completely earth-shattering to be original or have significant impact” (p. 4). Being able to look over so many various disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, physics, sociology, archeo-mythology, and home health is helpful to understand the breadth of what creativity can mean in academia. Montuori (2008) in talking about the creative process, describes that there is a need to be immersed in our fields of study. He states

“although it may be true that in the illumination phase the creative process appears deeply mysterious and sometimes mystical, to get to that level of inspiration, we need deep immersion into our subject matter, the development of real craft, the ability to explore, think, investigate, and then, after the illumination, to engage the process of verification” (p. 21)

It would seem that learning about all of these different writers could help us to gain illumination.

The discussion in the “Creativity in Academia” (n.d.), the discussion around some of the researchers whose research passed some ethical bounds, such as Milgram (1963) or Haney, Banks, and Zimbardo1 (1973). Both of these articles have spurred a significant amount of discussion and thought both around their ethics, but also regarding the implications of their findings. A couple of weeks ago, when talking about these studies to my bachelors level students in my Social Science Research Methods class I am teaching for Heritage University this fall, I found myself being interested not so much in the subversive nature of the studies, but in the creativity insight they bring. These studies were very creative, and the exciting thing to think about as a young scholar we get the opportunity to help move forward our fields.


California Institute of Integral Studies. (2017, May 8). Thesis and dissertation policies. Retrieved from

Creativity in Academia. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Haney, C., Banks, C., & Zimbardo, P. (1973). Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1, 69–97.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of Obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371–378.

Montuori, A. (2006). The quest for a new education: From oppositional identities to creative Inquiry. ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation, 28(3), 4-20. 10.3200/REVN.28.3.4-20.

— (2008). The Joy of Inquiry. Journal of Transformative Education, 6(1), 8–26.

— (2012). Creative inquiry: Confronting the challenges of scholarship in the 21st century. Futures 44(1), 64-70.

Montuori, A.&  Donnelly. G. (2013). Creative inquiry and scholarship: Applications and implications in a doctoral degree. World Futures: The Journal of Global Education, 69(1), 1-19.


  1. Note that much of the discussion around the Stanford Experiment attributes it to Zimbardo, but the journal article does not place him as the primary author of the study.

Author Note

This essay was originally posted as a discussion topic for TSD 8005: Introduction to Transformative Studies.