Dean of The Creative School at Ryerson University
Director of The Creative School’s Future of Live Entertainment Lab (FOL!E)
Dr. Kristopher Alexander
Director of Research at The Conduit and RTA Media professor of video games
Director of The Creative School’s Innovation Studio
The Creative School at Ryerson University is a disruptor in media, design, and creative industries and is a place where students learn, transform, and reimagine creativity.
Creativity is at the heart of innovation, inspiring change, and fostering diversity. As the world emerges from the pandemic while also undergoing a social revolution, it’s a pivotal time to rethink the entertainment industry — and creativity must be at the forefront.
But what is creativity, exactly? According to Charles Falzon, Dean of The Creative School at Ryerson University, “Creativity is a mix of innovation, design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, and the ability to make change happen. Being creative is about problem-solving.”
Creativity as a concept is multifaceted, and so is The Creative School. With its innovative and transdisciplinary approach, the faculty is equipping the next generation of leaders in entertainment and beyond.
Embracing creativity, collaboration, and lateral thinking
The Creative School is home to nine leading schools in media, communication, and design, three transdisciplinary hubs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, and a robust international network. A leader in higher education, The Creative School prepares students for the future of work including opportunities to learn from global perspectives, entrepreneurial skills, sustainable practices, and innovative audience engagement strategies.
“The Creative School is about the future of media and creative industries in Canada,” says Falzon. “We’re bringing people from various fields together to think more boldly about the future.” As the global challenges we face are complex and multifaceted, Falzon believes that transdisciplinary and lateral thinking are critical. “The Creative School is an ecosystem of innovation and inspiration for future innovators, and the world needs that,” he says.
Creating immersive experiences through a transdisciplinary approach
Many global organizations are drawn to The Creative School as a way to connect with its diverse hub of forward-thinking innovators. Louis-Etienne Dubois, Director of The Creative School’s Future of Live Entertainment Lab (FOL!E), focuses on developing sustainable solutions to support the future of live entertainment. This includes an innovative industry collaboration with partner Cirque du Soleil.
“From Cirque’s standpoint, partnering with us is about being able to draw from so many disciplines and expertise,” says Dubois. “There’s this unique relationship where we can pool our heads and our resources, and try to do something different.”
Dubois notes that there’s no such thing as a pure creative field. “There’s a lot of overlapping between different fields and fuzzy boundaries between different forms of art,” he says. “Innovation can be found at the interface of all those creative sectors. Together, we can push the boundaries and work on really developing immersive experiences.”
Video game storytelling, esports, and engagement
An exciting new addition to The Creative School, The Conduit, offers students access to a leading-edge esports and video games research lab and underscores the importance of transdisciplinary approaches to learning and skills development.
“There isn’t a single discipline that doesn’t connect to the video games industry,” says Dr. Kristopher Alexander, Director of Research at The Conduit and RTA Media professor of video games. “So many disciplines — from fashion, journalism, and media production to interior design, project management, and law — connect to video games.”
With 52 percent of Canadians identifying as gamers, video games and esports are booming industries. And with a growing focus on engaging live audiences — like the Travis Scott virtual concert that occurred live on popular online video game Fortnite, attracting 12.5 million viewers — and storytelling through gaming, the need for collaboration and creativity is clear.
“Everything starts and ends with creativity, from storytelling to engagement to interactivity,” says Alexander.
The future is creative
The future of entertainment is also closely connected to entrepreneurship, and The Creative School Innovation Studio is devoted to entrepreneurship and innovation in the creative industries.
“We have several discipline-focused incubator spaces made up of teams of students and industry members working on projects that push the boundaries within their respective domains,” says Ramona Pringle, Director at the Innovation Studio.
Whether it’s tackling audience engagement, sustainability, or inclusivity, The Creative School’s students are always innovating.
Pringle also notes that The Creative School has a recovery cohort, an initiative to support creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs as they rebuild the creative economy post-pandemic. “As incubators, so much of what’s magical about our spaces is that we have all this interdisciplinary talent in one space,” she says. “The recovery cohort is an incubator and accelerator focused on recovery and building back better.”