A DaVinci Year in Review

by Kyle Dahlem, Executive Director – The DaVinci Institute

The DaVinci Institute continues to be a viable non-profit organization—small but with a growing impact. Although our membership year runs from July to June, the following calendar year activities give you a sense of the past year accomplishments.


  • In January and February, faculty and students were considered for DaVinci awards.
  • In March, a successful banquet honored five Fellows and five Scholars for creativity in select situations. President Paul Sechrist, OCCC, gave a compelling presentation via music and speech.
  • In April, the Spring Forum at Northeastern State University featured Oral Roberts University professor and author David Burkus, discussing barriers to creativity. Round table discussions among faculty from over 12 institutions of higher education, determined that a creativity repository would be developed for both student and faculty use.
  • In May, the updated Web site and blog were nearing completion.
  • In June, the planning meeting revised and updated the organizational chart.
  • In September, the membership drive resulted in 16 institutional memberships and 11 individual memberships.
  • In October, the Fall Forum, held at East Central University, gave both students and faculty time to outline the creativity repository.
  • In November, board members took part in the State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City.


  • March 28, the Awards banquet will be held at the Oklahoma History Center.  Dr. E. Ann Nalley, Cameron University Professor of Chemistry and 2006 president of American Chemical Society will be the keynote speaker.
  • April 11, the Spring Forum will be held at Oklahoma State University. The topic for discussion will revolve around undergraduate research and how its relationship to the creativity repository.
  • Second Friday of each month—regular board meeting.


Jack Bryant, former president of the DaVinci Institute, has been named President of Redlands Community College. This is the third DaVinci president/board member that has gone on to head an institution of higher learning.

The Empowering Creative Triad

By Dennis C. Williams, Dean – College of Teaching and Learning, Southern Nazarene University

I was up early this morning, working through the four quadrants that Ken Wilber identifies in his Marriage of Sense and Soul and thinking about how he might be going to use them to lay out the plan for integrating the Beauty and Good as equal peers with imperialistic scientific materialism.  Yes, I suspect, I’m late to the Ken Wilber party. I was also thinking about an upcoming trip to Finland, where I’ll be attending the 2014 World Creativity Forum and where I might have an opportunity to serve on a panel on interdisciplinary collaboration.  I hope I get to.  I’ve been meditating on the topic for some time.

In that morning twilight space, it occurred to me that the Triadic structure that John King talks about in he and David Logan’s Tribal Leadership and the classical triad of body, mind and spirit that Wilber recalls is perhaps the key to structuring creative, interdisciplinary teams at all levels of education and work.

First, some background: I’ve been a student and friend of John King (co-author of Tribal Leadership) for some time now and he introduced me (virtually) to the work of Ken Wilber.  I’ve been reading Wilber’s The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion over the break. Since the topic of religion and science integration has long been a topic in which I’ve had a deep interest (see my God’s Wilds: John Muir’s Vision of Nature), it is a bit of a surprise that I’ve not read any of Wilber’s work before.  I think I may have started his Sex, Ecology and Spirituality many years ago, but was too deep into teaching outside my field to get far into it and the moment was lost.  What fascinates me about Wilber’s work now is how much of what I’ve done over the years has prepared me to read it with an integrating eye – something I probably would not have been able to do in the middle 1990s given that I was “arguing” with my elders about the true location of that historical space in which evolutionary science and faith integration had existed in harmonious partnership.  I was so busy “arguing” about location that I was not listening very well.  Thanks to Vera Hance, Anthony DeMello, John King, Richard Rohr, and life experience, I’ve grown much more open to listening now.

That context behind us, the important inquiry for me today is how might we integrate John King’s Triadic Work Structure and Wilber’s I, WE, IT – Art, Religion, Science – Spirit, Mind, Body differentiations to empower CREATIVITY?

A few provoked ideas –

First, we would need to construct a Creativity Triad. In general, the triad I’m talking about consists of three people (probably representing groups of people) working to enact a Noble Cause.  Each of the people at the apices of the triad will to work together because they share resonant core values associated with the noble cause and each is particularly motivated or empowered by one (or a subset) of the core values. The shared values are key to energizing the work and stabilizing the project.  For the team to work effectively and when the going gets tough, these stable partners attend to the health of the value connections – often reminding one another of the values shared between them.  This serves to keep the team grounded and the vision in clear view.

By way of example, one might imagine a group of people with a noble cause and resonant core values drawn from the local business community, the local educational community (K-20) and local civic action groups (churches, synagogues, mosques, various social service NGOs, etc) who each desire a community filled with “creative, empowered, productive citizens.”  The civic action groups value people living together civilly, working together to keep up their neighborhoods, and living healthy and meaningful lives.  The business leaders desire educated, engaged employees with necessary skills and work ethic who take pride and responsibility in their work and find it meaningful and rewarding.  The educators desire deep partnerships with a community of parents that works alongside them to encourage students to learn and with business leaders who value the work of schools and ensure that graduates have an opportunity to get good jobs locally that draw upon and reinforce the knowledge and skills that they have learned in school.  If such a group existed, and I’m sure it does, how would it organize itself in a productive, integral manner for the good of creatively creating a community filled with creative, empowered, productive citizens?”

I’d offer that this would be just the right situation in which to form a Creativity Triad – a small social organization whose noble cause is to bring a new idea (or ideas) into reality. A Creativity Triad is intentionally constructed of disciplinary practitioners from the worlds of art, social well-being and science to represent respectively Beauty, Good and Truth?  Each partner would bring his/her worldview, well honed skills, and access to their respective spheres of work. Each would speak the language of their discipline and engage with one another from a position of openness (because each desires to see the Noble Cause enacted).

In the effective triad, the small scale social dynamic would be such that science would have a difficult time being too imperialistic (which Wilber identifies as the source of the disaster of modernity) because it is socially difficult for one person to stand up to two united for long.  Science brings what it is good at and what is vital to successful creation – organizing materials and work. Art brings what it is particularly good at – manifesting a clear and powerful vision out of the morass of sensation, perception, emotion, concepts and symbols. Morality speaks for the benefit of the socio-cultural world – asking what intended good and what unintended harm the innovation might bring – always calling for the higher good.

Of course there will always be snags and disagreement, and this is why the Triad is such a powerful tool. For, when one of the disciplines begins to bear over another, becoming domineering and narcissistic, when arguments and dysfunction break out between two of the partners, the third partner plays a critical role – that partner reminds the the others of their shared resonant values, speaks for importance of collaboration for the good of noble cause, and works to prevent a dissociative fragmentation that will doom the project.

Imagine how creative such partnerships could be!  Imagine them at work inside the company, the classroom, and community center. What magnificent work they could accomplish! Wouldn’t it be fabulous to attend to such collaborations both locally and globally!?  What Noble Causes has a hold on you that you could use a Creative Triad to  help bring it into the world?

DaVinci Scholar Announced as Teacher of the Year Finalist

Congratulations to UCO graduate and 2008 DaVinci Scholar Kim Massicotte. Kim was recently announced as one of nine 2014 Oklahoma Public School Foundation Teacher of the Year finalists.

New Book – Myths of Creativity by David Burkus

Dr. David Burkus, ORU assistant professor, who spoke at the DaVinci Spring Forum, is announced that his book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies and People Really Generate Great Ideas  is now available.

Engaging his reader in entertaining, enlightening stories, David makes the case that creativity leads to innovation and that barriers to this process are mythical.

In a time when innovation is key to education, culture and business, The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies and People Really Generate Great Ideas provides the meaningful research and citations to make creativity less abstract without removing the “magic” of the process.

Not only is this book highly recommended for personal growth, but it would make a great teaching tool.

I find it a written treatise on the mission statement of the DaVinci Institute: To promote a statewide creative renaissance through lectures, professional development, workshops, research and advocacy.

WEBSITE | http://www.davidburkus.com

FACEBOOK | /drdavidburkus
Feel Free to Pass this information on to others.
Read on!
Kyle Dahlem

The DaVinci Scholars Award provides a $1,000 award for Outstanding First-Year Teachers.

The DaVinci Scholar Award is designed to honor pre-service teachers whose academic accomplishments and service to the university are deemed most notable. Nominees will demonstrate the ability to integrate content into relevant applications through a service learning proposal. The proposal should exemplify scholarship, creativity, inventiveness, sound teaching techniques, and a keen sense of responsibility.

Eligible applicants for this award must in their final two years in a teacher preparation program.

Presidents or Provosts of each university may nominate no more than two education majors for the award.

Deadline for submitting nominations is December 20, 2013.

Selection will be based on four characteristics:

  1. Academic GPA (20 percent)
  2. Service Learning Proposal (see attached instructions) (50 percent)
  3. Creativity (20 percent)
  4. Letter of Recommendation (10 percent)

The recipients will be honored at the annual DaVinci Awards banquet, March 28, 2014, and will receive a $1,000 check in October of the first year of teaching in an Oklahoma school.

A complete application consists of four documents:

  1. nomination form from University President or Provost
  2. a current transcript of nominee
  3. the nominee’s completed Service Learning Proposal (not to exceed five typewritten pages) (See instructions below)
  4. a letter of recommendation (not to exceed one typewritten page)  which provides specific examples and/or evidence of nominee’s distinguished qualities and activities

Nomination Submission:  The complete application should be submitted electronically by December 20, 2013 to: davinci@osrhe.edu

A notice of receipt will assure submission is complete.

Contact Information: Kyle Dahlem, Executive Director, DaVinci Institute.   davinci@osrhe.edu

2013-2014 Service Learning Proposal

Teachers in the 21st Century face many challenges, one of the most important being the necessity to make learning meaningful to the students in their classrooms. Students question the relevance of their learning. How will I use what I’m learning? When will I ever need this? Interdisciplinary/cross-curricular teaching is often seen as a way to address some of the recurring problems in education, such as fragmentation and isolated skill instruction.

Service Learning is a pedagogy that utilizes interdisciplinary/cross curricular teaching to involve students in community service to meet instructional objectives of courses. Students apply information from classes in authentic settings, while addressing critical needs in the community. The lessons are designed for students to see the connection and apply this knowledge to formulate and execute problem-solving strategies, often in a novel approach. These real world situations encourage communication and collaboration. Research suggests that learning tends to proceed from the concrete to the abstract, therefore, service learning is a powerful tool for impacting student achievement.

The purpose of the DaVinci Scholar’s Service Learning Proposal is to show evidence that the applicant knows his or her content and can integrate course objectives into a service learning teaching unit.  Additionally, it will give readers an insight into the applicant’s educational background, writing skills, and creativity.

The Proposal Criteria

Design a Service Learning Project to be accomplished as a class in a familiar community (neighborhood or school). The formal proposal must not exceed five (5) pages. It must be double-spaced, using Times New Roman in 12 point font.  The written proposal is all that is required in this application—not the implementation of the plan.

A well-planned service learning project should include:

  1. Stated academic and service goals that are linked
  2. Identification of the reciprocal benefits of service for both the student and the community partner
  3. Strategies for assessment
  4. Opportunities for reflection

The narrative should at a minimum include:

  1. Unit title
  2. Learning Objectives based on the Oklahoma Academic Standards
  3. Learner Outcomes
    1. What students will know or be able to do after completing the unit
    2. Expected Academic gains
    3. Expected Societal gains
  4. The Service Component
    1. The Need
    2. Community Partners
  5. Timeline – A sequential listing of teacher and student tasks to be completed in this unit
  6. Assessments – Ways to measure how well the students mastered the intended objectives


By Kyle Dahlem, Executive Director, DaVinci Institute

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank at the cutting edge of designing innovation policies and documenting how advances in technology are creating new opportunities to boost economic growth, issued The 2011 Global Rankings on Innovation and Competitiveness.

In that report, the U.S. ranked 10th on Higher Education attainment and a 4th overall rank.
The DaVinci Institute advocates for a statewide renaissance in innovation and creativity. Why is this important?

What are the imperatives?

  • 2014 College graduates will retire in approximately 70 years.
  • Less than 10 years ago, the ubiquitous Skype, Tweet, Twitter, Cloud, Tumblrs, blogs, podcasts, Android, etc., all had different definitions. Can one begin to imagine the next seven (7) decades?

Consider a sampling of headlines in recent publications to get a sense of the ever-evolving challenges for educators and education in general.

THE ROBOT ECONOMY: As rapid technological advances create more powerful robots, which jobs will be left behind? Time, Vol.182, No.11/2013

SOCIAL MEDIA: Now, even babies tweet. The Week, September 20, 2013, p. 17

THE ART OF LIVING: it may be no coincidence that so many creative types have long lives. New findings show how doing what you love can add years. Time, Vol. 182, No.13/2013

UP: Google is designing a fleet of solar-powered balloons circling earth to give billions of people internet access. Wired, September 2013, pg.

Or how about this:

MOTOROLA IS WORKING ON A PASSWORD PILL FOR ONCE A DAY AUTHENTICATION: Let’s get real. We have a password problem. So why not turn your entire body into an authentication device? Techland.time.com/2013/05/31

There is no question that in the midst of shrinking resources for higher education, the demands to prepare citizens for an ever changing world of work can be diminished.

What kind of skills do college graduates need for the 21st Century?

Much like the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the DaVinci Institute is advocating through a collaboration with both Oklahoma public and private higher education institutions to provide information, innovative tools and motivation to prepare Oklahoma students for the 21st Century.


Neuro-activation/de-activation Recipe for Creativity?

by Jeff King, Executive Director
Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning
University of Central Oklahoma

Will it ever be possible to induce creativity?

Maybe some researchers investigating underlying processes and structures of creativity, whether neurological (the “wetware”), electro- or physio-mechanical (the “hardware”), or algorithm-ical (the “software”), seek the holy grail of a recipe that will allow the dependable production of a creative state in humans (and eventually, post-singularity, in machine intelligence).

Limb and Braun (2008) reported findings of a functional magnetic imaging research study involving jazz musicians that sought to define which areas of the brain are active or inactive (relatively speaking) while a jazz pianist is improvising. Their findings jibe with results of other brain imaging studies of humans being creative. (For example, research on rappers during their improvisatory creations melding words to rhythm.)

If it were possible to replicate the neural activation patterns that seem to characterize certain kinds of creativity, would that mean creative output would be guaranteed?

Limb and Braun’s findings intrigue because they give clues to what may be markers of a creative state based on how areas of the brain operate together and on what is generally thought to be the result of activation/de-activation patterns connected to the various regions of the brain’s physical structure. Specifically, their findings seem to indicate there is a quieting of activity in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex. This quieting tamps down on some of the rule-based, logical-rational reasoning that would otherwise occur and which is responsible in many ways for self-control and good decision-making.

That’s a grossly oversimplified crystallization of innumerable nuances in how brains work. Too, there is the individual’s background experience and large number of idiosyncratic response patterns that factor into the mix from which Limb and Braun have tried to tease out some generalizations about the kind of creativity involved in jazz improvisation. Nonetheless, this transient hypofrontality (meaning, temporary suppression of certain prefrontal cortex activity usually indicating the person’s self-regulation of impulse is lessened) might offer a strong clue about getting into a creative state for musical improvisation and perhaps for other kinds of creative tasks, too:

Taken together, the consistency of findings reported here suggests that the dissociation of activity in medial and lateral prefrontal cortices is attributable to the experimentally constant feature of improvisation and may be a defining characteristic of spontaneous musical creativity. (Limb & Braun, 2008)

So how do you train yourself to make your brain behave in this way when you undertake what you hope will produce creative results?

It would, after all, be delightful to don a brainwave-inducing hat, set the controls to tamp down activity in your dorsolateral and lateral orbital prefrontal cortex regions, and happily anticipate creative solutions and constructs conjured by your creativity-primed brain.

Maybe that will be possible in some science-fictional future. Limb and Braun’s research did not delve, however, into the processes that these jazz musicians employed to create the brain activation patterns that were markers for creativity — it only attempted to define the brain patterns in place when creative activity was occurring.

An intriguing speculation presented by Limb and Braun, though, is that meditation, hypnosis, daydreaming, and even rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (i.e., dreaming) can create an altered state of consciousness during which free-form associations occur and which also produce similar neuro-patterns of lessened prefrontal cortex activity.

At the risk of yet more oversimplification, this and other research at least hints that one of the hallmarks of certain kinds of creativity is an altered conscious state which removes some of the cognitive shackles we have adopted because they temper otherwise impulsive thought and action that could lead to bad, even dangerous, results.

The trick is to turn loose the muse at the appropriate time.

Limb C. J., & Braun, A.R. (2008). Neural substrates of spontaneous musical performance: An fMRI study of jazz improvisation. PLoS ONE 3(2): e1679. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001679. Available: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001679


WHY: The Creative Question

By John Dexter Marble, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Exploring questions with divergent answers is the heart of the creative enterprise.  The uncertainty associated with a variety of insights from different … Continue reading


The DaVinci Institute is a unique private partnership of leaders in higher education across the state of Oklahoma. Our goal is to nurture the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, and Education in Oklahoma as these fields undergo transformations in the twenty-first century. Through academic and community partnerships, programming, and public awareness, the DaVinci Institute aims to encourage critical thinking and creativity. We promote collaboration with other organizations to support our programming and further our vision. The DaVinci Institute vision is to improve the quality of education in Oklahoma and, by doing so, to help Oklahomans carry their creative talents to the world.

The Confession of an ISTJ

by Dr. Gary L. Grady, Psychology Instructor, Connors State College “Hello. I’m Gary and I’m an ISTJ.” Those who are familiar with types, based on the theories of Jung and the work of Myers and Briggs, know that means I am a … Continue reading