The Renaissance Center
The Renaissance Center is a revolutionary collaborative space and ideation laboratory designed to bridge multiple sectors, disciplines and cultures and to positively impact the course of society’s greatest challenges. It seeks to cultivate and challenge the common interests of educators, leaders from business and government, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs, and to serve as a springboard to collaboration, research and social change. Not least, the Renaissance Center is a crucible for the formation of inspired leaders and engaged citizens, and an interdisciplinary hub for innovation, whole-systems thinking, whole-enterprise or whole-campus discourse, renewal and transformation.
for the Renaissance Center
The need for thoughtful, competent, mature, empathetic and ethical leadership is unparalleled in human history. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Global Challenges such as climate change, the resilience of our institutions as well as our leaders and our youth, threat of pandemics, nuclear weapons proliferation and the growing potential of nuclear war, marginalized educational opportunities, environmental degradation, threats to the global food supply, failing governments and failing socio-political systems, terrorism, social inequities and more, are front and center for our generation to address and resolve.
We need innovative global leaders and global citizens who have the knowledge, skills, insights and wisdom to pursue solutions with intensity, commitment and a driving sense of urgency – and the enabling organizations to support them: educational institutions, governments, businesses, and social enterprises. The raison d’etre of the Renaissance Center is nothing less than the development of the individuals, the organizations and institutions that will succeed in finding and implementing solutions to the Global Challenges and SDGs.
"If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do, how would be, what would I do?"
A Renaissance for Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities face special challenges as they endeavor to emerge from a Covid-ravaged world and adapt to the rapidly changing learning landscape. While they need to respond nimbly to the narrowly focused pressures of a competencies-driven job market, more importantly they need to embrace a whole-systems perspective that will enable them to adequately frame and resolve the Global Challenges before us.
Helping colleges and universities excel in developing future leaders who apply imagination, synergy, creativity and connectivity to addressing global challenges is a strategic priority of the Renaissance Center. Key to this will be embedding imagination, synergy, creativity and connectivity into each institution’s DNA, and especially into its teaching and course design.
Brilliant scholars and professors must become equally brilliant and dedicated teachers and facilitators of learning. Expert teaching cannot be left to chance. Teaching is an art form and a discipline to be perfected through serious investment in faculty development, creativity, renewal and transformation. The Renaissance Center is dedicated to helping colleges and universities reclaim the excellence and authenticity of their core business – teaching.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
The first principle of Renaissance is Imagination, and the second is Synergy: a generative principle matched with an integrative one. So too, Creativity and Connectivity: a generative principle matched with an integrative one. That’s the key – applied across the disciplines and branches of knowledge: the arts, sciences, humanities and technology -- and no less in business, government, research, the social sector and the economy: In each case, generative principle matched with an integrative one.
Every program and project of the Renaissance Center is driven by the application of these two dynamic principles, one aimed at sparking and generating new ideas, the other at catalyzing connectivity across differences – disciplinary, cultural or individual. One deftly activates imagination, ignites and empowers new thinking. The other binds us together, cultivates relationships and seeds collaboration.
Importantly, the creative and performing arts are positioned with signature uniqueness as sparks and catalysts within the Renaissance Center to ignite imagination, deepen reflective practices and activate new lenses for problem solving, new problem identification, learning and research. This signature methodology springs directly from the core practices of the Renaissance Center’s parent nonprofit, Creative Leaps International, whose work over three decades on six continents inspired the Renaissance Center’s creation.
At the heart of this signature methodology is a programming innovation known as a “Concert of Ideas," i.e.,
a keynote event in the form of a concert designed to activate imagination and help participants to think. How does it work? Each Concert of Ideas embodies a set of artful triggers specially selected to set minds and hearts in curious exploratory motion. Participants are royally entertained. Simultaneously, they are invited to think deeply, to entertain new perspectives, and, ultimately, to enter into thoughtful dialogue with one another. [Learn More]
Renaissance Thinking for the 21st Century
Renaissance thinking is interdisciplinary thinking,
the ability to see and make connections across disciplines, cultures and sectors. Between the arts and sciences for a start, but also crisscrossing the entire spectrum of our disciplines and ways of knowing. Leonardo da Vinci made the case for this approach to exploring the world, the world within and the world we create through our ideas. Interdisciplinary, cross-boundary thinking is foundational to 'renaissance' and a key to innovation, imagination and genius.
Renaissance thinking is integrative thinking which makes the unity of knowledge possible. It sees 'whole systems' where others see departments or flat-out chaos, and sees relationships where others see only discrete actors. In the 21st century, Renaissance thinking is aligned with and springs from a ‘living systems’ mindset of interconnected, nested ecologies, an ‘ecology of mind’ (as Gregory Bateson termed it) matched to the ecologies of Nature.
Renaissance thinking is imaginative thinking, the application of dedicated, unbounded imagination to every problem, project, decision or challenge one encounters. It is curious and inclusive. When focused on a problem, imagination rarely attacks its subject straight on, it is not linear. Rather, it is purposefully indirect or ‘orbital’ in nature, preferring to explore the surrounding neighborhood of ideas in order to cultivate an intuition for what lies at the center. This ‘orbital’ approach seeks out context, field forces, the topography of the terrain, the perspectives of other disciplines, the culture of local highways and byways—all the time cultivating an increasingly savvy measure of intuition for its point of focus, not unlike the meanderings of a shy boy in orbit around his ‘Juliet.’ The orbiting is deliberate and research-oriented, imagination is wholly engaged, as we seek a multiplicity of perspectives on this subject of our fascinations.