How did you learn to think creatively? Maybe creative thinking is a practice in which you’ve always excelled. You played an instrument as a child. A teacher commended you on your ability to draw or to write. Maybe you majored in studio art.
So often, though, cultural narratives about “creativity” center upon a narrow definition of what it means to be creative.
Creativity isn’t associated with scientific careers like it is for artistic work, or even humanities-related work. But it is just as important for scientists to be creative as it is for anyone else.
“There’s creativity required to tackle scientific questions that resonates with the artistic process,” says Dr. Maryam Zaringhalam a molecular biologist, science writer, and member of the 500 Women Scientists leadership team. Not only is creativity necessary for articulating what science really looks like to the next generations of scientists, but it’s necessary for the research and discovery process. A creative approach is also necessary in making your case to the world (the public, policymakers, funders) about why they should care about your research.
Creative thinking and problem-solving is not an innate skill, no matter what you may have been told as a child. It is learned. And we all have the capacity for it. So how can we continue to nurture that skill as post-graduate adults, especially given the demands of busy careers and lives?
One way: professional development rooted in science communication through Wikipedia.
Writing content on Wikipedia requires thinking across disciplines, positioning complex concepts within larger frameworks of knowledge and culture. Step away from the micro of your research, from academic jargon, and from folks who already understand your area of expertise. Step into how the public conceives of your discipline and research topics. How can you act as a bridge and create better understanding on a global level?
Our virtual Wikipedia writing courses bring scientists together within and across institutions towards the team-building and challenging task of Wikipedia editing. Wiki Scientists are asked to broaden their mind, to make connections across disciplines, to step outside the traditional modes of academic writing. This exercise in broadening your thinking creates more opportunities for spotting connections, both on Wikipedia and in your careers and research. Breaking out of an academic routine also helps stimulate new thinking and even more original ideas.
Wikipedia organizes world knowledge into a web of connections. Nurture your creating thinking by contributing content across that web. Improve the current state of world knowledge about your interests and feel satisfied and fulfilled doing so.
Explore our current Wiki Scientist offerings here. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to buy out a course for your institution’s faculty.