Assistant Professor, Urban Planning & Public Policy
At the start of her PhD studies at Stanford University, Professor Nicola Ulibarri took a class in “design thinking”, hoping it would accelerate her work. Inspired by the usefulness of this experience, in 2010 she joined with Amanda Cravens, Anja Svetina Nabergoj, Adam Royalty, and Sebastian Kernbach to develop Creativity in Research, a project to enhance the creativity of busy researchers with design thinking. Drawing on the scientific research on creativity, they developed a practical workshop for graduate students and faculty. In the years teaching this workshop, they have seen repeatedly that increasing creative confidence leads to greater productivity and more innovative research outputs. At the same time, learning to focus on the process of research has an emotional impact on how their students approach research, as they seem to have less stress and a greater sense of control, ultimately becoming happier as well as more creatively productive researchers.
The team recently turned the workshop curriculum into a book, Creativity in Research: Cultivate Clarity, Be Innovative, and Make Progress in your Research Journey (Cambridge University Press, 2019). The book presents key abilities that underlie creative research practice through a combination of scientific literature, vignettes, experiential exercises, and guided reflection.
Nicola also frequently puts design thinking to use! She is an assistant professor in Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine, where she leads an interdisciplinary research team that studies water and infrastructure governance. Her team combines approaches from environmental planning, public administration, and water resource engineering to improve the interactions between people, infrastructure, and the environment. In her free time, she is a trivia fanatic, expert online video watcher, and loves hiking.
Bonni Stachowiak is the producer and host of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, which has been airing weekly since June of 2014. Bonni is the Dean of Teaching and Learning at Vanguard University of Southern California. She’s also a Professor of Business and Management and teaches a few times a year in an Educational Leadership doctoral program. She’s been teaching in-person, blended, and online courses throughout her entire career in higher education. Bonni and her husband, Dave, are parents to two curious kids, who regularly shape their perspectives on teaching and learning.
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