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Summer School teacher interview: Radical Creativity is a human capacity rather than a super talent

In this course, we dive deeper into what it means to be individuals in a complex, turbulent, fast-paced society where one navigates the unknown daily. Get to know Natalia Villaman and Ricardo Dutra – the teachers behind the Radical Creativity summer course by Aalto University Summer School.
Portaits of Ricardo Dutra and Natalia Villaman
Ricardo Dutra and Natalia Villaman

Radical Creativity course teachers Natalia Villaman, doctoral researcher at University of Helsinki and Ricardo Dutra, lecturer at Aalto University, let us in on what radical creativity means in the context of everyday life.

In what ways can taking this summer course change your perspective on life in general?

“It is all about embarking on a journey that has people, and their different social environments, as its main focus. Nowadays, we hear, think and are bombarded with associations of the word ‘radical’ with flashy designs, fashion, big-scale economic gain, or materialistic processes. Oftentimes, we forget that radical action also comes from smaller gestures and actions, like from the act of people gathering – in groups, collectives and social movements.”, says Natalia

“We usually tend to think of creativity as something we do, but we rarely consider the inner dimension from which creativity is born. In this course, we hope to offer space, tools and possibilities to look inward and understand how your thoughts, feelings, and sensations are connected with the creative processes you participate in.”, Ricardo fills in.

Why are you teaching the Radical Creativity course?

Natalia: For the past seven years I have been working on, researching and being personally involved in causes, jobs, initiatives and theories related to civic participation and human rights, as well as how we act, and facilitate human interaction. This course is the perfect opportunity to bring together a diverse group of professionals, students and other life-wide learners who want to take their practice a step further and increase their awareness of themselves, their relation to others, and the context they navigate daily.

Ricardo: Growing up in a low-income suburb in a medium-sized city in Brazil, thinking of myself as “creative” was not part of my identity. However, over time, and mainly after working with social entrepreneurs in India and doing my Masters in Transdisciplinary Design, I began to realize that creativity is an innate human capacity and not a special talent. Meanwhile, I also learned that we must intentionally practice creativity. This course is a result of more than 10 years of intentional practice and honing of creative skills.

What does the creative journey look like for the student during this course?

"Students will be faced with a mix of experimental practices to increase the student's sense of identity and exposure to relevant theories, practices, and ways of thinking and communicating change. This will help the students to make an informed decision on what ‘Radical Creativity’ could mean to them. They will be immersed in the world of expression, cultures, social change, embodied practices and more, and all with a touch of Finnish nature, Aalto University, and our mix of backgrounds.", says Natalia.

How do you complement each other as teachers in this course?

Natalia: Despite both of our backgrounds being heavily influenced by social change, education, and social design, we still approach them in a very complementary way.

In the earliest years of my career, I have been heavily involved in activism, political lobbying, and power distribution in society. Nowadays, I complement that by focusing on equal, just and informed opportunities for citizens to participate in democracy, and also how those involved in the setting of those opportunities can be as informed, aware, and conscious about the agency they possess. 

I focus a lot on capacity building, education, research and raising awareness through communication. In short, I feel this works very well with Ricardo’s exploration of new ways of expressing what is not yet visible, and how we connect as individuals, from an artistic and creative point of view.

Ricardo: My contribution draws from an international practice as a creative professional – as I have lived and worked in countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia, Nepal, China, the US, Finland, Norway, Italy, Mexico, and Australia. I am a social designer and have worked with social change and education for over 15 years. I bring a transdisciplinary approach to creativity drawing from the arts, design, phenomenology, and social innovation to the course.

The application period for Radical Creativity is open until 16 June 2024. 
Apply through the Aalto University Summer School application form.

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Radical Creativity

Dive into the ambiguous concept of radical creativity! Explore its many levels to find out what it means to you in the context of your personal identity, in relation to others, and within complex societal challenges.

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