Social Artistry Through Co-Creation

How can you bring your creativity to a cause that you believe in? Maybe through the concept of co-creation—collaborative innovation in which ideas are shared and improved together.

This course is a proving ground where you can explore your own queries. Together we will bring focus, perspective, skills and fresh vision to the social arena within the liberating frame of a collaborative learning space. We will explore your own knowledge, and connect it with scholarship from fields including public health and literature, to help you build and engage with a co-creation community to undertake a project. This course heavily relies on felt experience and reflective dialogue. You’ll apply several relevant artistic methods along the way, including reflection, question exchange, storytelling and visual thinking.

Note: This small class involves active participation and group discussion.

Currently not available for registration.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate, in the classroom, co-creative and collaborative problem solving
  • Describe strategies for discovering how to engage with communities
  • Co-create a short art-based presentation
  • Discuss your motivations and assumptions about the work and the communities you hope to engage

Learning methods

You will learn through a combination of discussion, group work, creative exercises, in-class reflection and reading. For Liberal Arts Certificate for 55+ students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1: Creating a common understanding of co-creation

We unpack the concept of co-creation, the process that maximizes the potential for creative breakthroughs. Using the classroom as a community of practice, we develop an intimate environment that serves as a container for creative partnership to handle the dive into the unknown. Creative achievement is relational and closely connected to philosophical paradigms of inquiry, such as “Ikigai” (the Japanese concept of reason for being) and social artistry. We also explore the intangibles of co-creation and apply this exploration to a range of relevant contexts.

Week 2: Initiating the co-creation process through collaborative problem formulation

We start with a process of collaborative problem identification and engage in collaborative problem-solving activities. We designate roles in order to create engagement and empowerment that emulates a group of citizens. We also introduce Art-Based Community Development (ABCD) for the following art-engaging activities where we offer students a means of accessing previously unvoiced perceptions or nebulous understandings and enable them to articulate these in divergent ways that resonate with others.

Week 3: Developing the art of engagement: the Poetry Gallery exercise

We start the Poetry Gallery exercise where we introduce students to ideas of tacit knowledge and learning. As they browse, select, and share poems, students may tap into personal material that they have not shared in other situations. These include values, relationships, future ambitions, crises, work experience, athletic or artistic skills, conflicts, and changes. As they share their responses with others, and free-write their own proto-poems, learning occurs at levels deeper than mere content generation.

Week 4: Working in a small group (2~3) to develop a proposal

We introduce a “bridging activity” for students to apply and develop their proposals in the concrete, local context of which practical implementation is an important element. Students are given the challenge of working together to design and facilitate one 20-min art-based presentation in Week 6. The multidimensional goals they are encouraged to consider include the content of the topic, skill practice, and engagement of peers, which furthers the development of the class as a learning community and personalizes the material.

Week 5: Managing the co-creation process

Addressing three issues: (1) diagnosing the community and what it needs, (2) making it personal, and (3) negotiating the role of the arts, the student groups work toward the production of a deliverable project. This promotes the sharing of experience and personal reflection on how co-creating works. Students are given methods and tools to work with between classes. In this way there is a close link between the learning process set in motion when students are attending the course and that initiated in their collaboration with fellow students and their respective communities.

Week 6: Dissemination and communication of the co-creation process

We invite students to present their projects in class. A rich network of intrinsic motivation is part of the co-creative experience. Students are motivated by social bonding, responsibility to the group, personal growth, and increased confidence in their presentation and facilitation abilities. Students borrow and adapt techniques such as role-playing, skits, stories, and the skillful use of classroom exercises from one another. In this sense, the culture of the class resembles the culture of a community of practice where members freely consult each other based on perceived expertise and interest.

Books, materials and resources

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

Academic integrity and student conduct

You are expected to comply with Simon Fraser University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Policies. Please click here for more details. Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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