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Michigan State University Michigan State University

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation, delivered an idea-filled, imagination-sparking talk to a capacity crowd as the College of Arts & Letters 2012 spring Signature Lecturer. One of the world’s leading speakers with a profound impact on audiences everywhere, Robinson did not disappoint his audience of students, faculty, staff and community members. 

“The real innovation and creativity always comes from people crossing borders, crossing boundaries, thinking differently, and very often through the interaction of disciplines through applying ideas from one field into another field. The real vitality of intelligence and creative thinking is in making connections, not from keeping everything separate.”

Unlocking Creativity

SPEAKING ON CRITICAL ISSUES with our current educational system with respect to its structure and processes, Robinson said that educators need to develop better ways to teach and boost creativity in our students as well as the way they are taught. Robinson challenged educators, parents, and community members to join forces and spark change.

Robinson works with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world's leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK government. "All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report)" was published to wide acclaim in 1999. An estimated 200 million people in more than 150 countries have seen online videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference.

Robinson was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, "Unlocking Creativity," was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore government for its strategy to become the creative hub of Southeast Asia.

For 12 years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, Ringling College of Arts and Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, Birmingham City University and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks to nearly 100 students gathered for a pre-lecture question and answer session and creative interlude. The three-hour event was developed, organized and conducted by Creativity Exploratory Fellows.

He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States, the LEGO Prize for international achievement in education, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN's "Principal Voices." In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.

His book "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" (Penguin/Viking 2009) is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into 21 languages. His latest book is a 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative" (Capstone/Wiley). Sir Ken was born in Liverpool, UK, as one of seven children. He is married to Therese (Lady) Robinson. They have two children, James and Kate, and live in Los Angeles, California.

"If you want to teach people in a way to facilitate their creative development, you need to set them tasks which engage their imagination, you need to give them open-ended questions, not closed ones. You need to empower them to search for unlikely possibilities and opportunities, you need to set them challenges and possibles that will exercise them and stretch the limits of their current way of thinking."

For more information about Sir Ken Robinson, please visit



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