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Cornerstone University offers 'creativity and innovation' as a secondary major

The program morphs three main aspects: practical training, interdisciplinary approach and reading of the "Great Books."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Cornerstone University announced its Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute (CIHI) in fall of 2017. The program allows students to study in Creativity and Innovation, as a secondary major to strengthen their ability in the marketplace after graduation.

"Six, seven years ago we were trying to look at our core, trying to revamp it, and one of the things we started to do is interview parents, students and businesses. Especially businesses were looking for a different skill set than what other universities are offering," Professor Don Perini, Director of the CIHI, said.

The program morphs three main aspects: practical training in creativity and innovation, an interdisciplinary approach to examining issues and problems and reading of the "Great Books," such as "The Epic of Gilgamesh" to explore civic and vocational responsibility. 

CIHI is composed heavily of hands-on work and encourages students to try and "fail wisely" as opposed to memorizing a textbook.

"It’s all hands-on, so we want to get them to experience what the real workplace looks like. We teach design thinking, human-centered design. How do you interview people, clients and customers and getting to figure out what they really desire? What are their hopes? What their dreams are and then developing a product or a service based on those hopes, dreams and desires," Perini said.

Creativity and innovation serves as a secondary major and must be paired with a primary major. Perini said the institute is willing to accept 50 students into each cohort each year. He added that when the institute first launched, there were about 80 students applied in the first few weeks.

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Joelle Henry, a sophomore at Cornerstone University, is pairing her education major with the CIHI. 

"I need to be a part of this. It’s so different. It’s so new, and it’s so hands-on. And that is just something that I absolutely love, and I knew that I wanted to be part of a change that this program is," Henry said.

In addition to giving students real-life experience in creativity and design thinking, the major may offer an edge to students when applying for jobs.

"We did a field trip last year out in Disher, which is in Zeeland, and when they heard what we were doing and met our students they said we would hire any of your students, because of what their learning," Perini said.

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For more information about the Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute, click here.

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