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IACT: Creativity for Tomorrow

Skills for the Future: Collaboration

By Adrienne Ausdenmoore, Director of IACT

Collaboration includes the capacity to work productively with different individuals and groups towards a common goal, and it’s one of the applied creativity micro-credentials from Education Design Lab being offered through UD’s Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT)

The complex challenges facing the workplace today demand that all employees be able to collaborate effectively across groups, departments, and even the entire organization. At IACT, we are preparing our students for both current and future workforce needs, and developing skills in cross-disciplinary collaboration is a core part of our curriculum. 

At the GEMnasium, our transdisciplinary approach hinges very much on strong collaboration, working across courses and disciplines to address real-world issues. We strive to provide an inclusive environment where everyone feels dignified and respected in what they bring to the table from their own lived and learned experiences. But putting this into practice can be a challenge: it is often easier to approach issues with a critical mindset, rather than being curious and open to alternative viewpoints. 

IACT student Brendan Ochs (Mechanical Engineering ‘22) shares that one way to foster open dialogue is to encourage honesty and “no judgement” when holding group discussions. “Being upfront and honest in an interaction makes me more comfortable to share what I am thinking. By setting the tone that all ideas will be valued, this opens the collaborative process up for greater innovation and success.”


To be an effective collaborator, you need to be able to strengthen relationships by incorporating diverse perspectives, using active listening skills, and focusing on solutions rather than problems. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these key components, with some tips on how you might put them in to practice in your own work: 


  1. Strengthening Relationships means creating networks through which you can access and provide resources, information, and support. This is important in both our professional and our personal lives. By forming new connections with peers or mentors, we are able to amplify the possibilities, leverage a broader range of knowledge, and accomplish much more than we would alone. 
    1. But keep in mind that a strong relationship doesn’t mean you have to always agree or have the same exact viewpoint. Conflict within even the closest knit relationships is natural. The ability to strengthen relationships includes being aware of your own biases, as well as understanding and respecting the experiences of others.  
  2. Incorporating Diverse Perspectives involves challenging your own thinking by enlarging the conversation. This can be accomplished by avoiding stereotyped assumptions, and ensuring that all relevant viewpoints are represented. As a Marianist institution, the analogy of “coming together at the table” is something we hear often. Who is at your “table”? What perspectives might be missing from the conversation?
  3. The next key element of collaboration is Listening Actively. This means ensuring that others feel heard and valued. Think about a conversation you’d have with a friend. Do you focus on what the other person is saying, rather than planning your response? Do your verbal and nonverbal cues show that you are truly engaged? Do you ask clarifying questions in order to ensure that you truly understand the other person’s perspective? All of these skills are important parts of listening actively. 
  4. Lastly, Focusing on Solutions simply means focusing on moving forward. Let’s say you’re in a group working on a project. Individuals focused on solutions don’t just complain about the problems, but rather work together to identify goals that align to a shared desired outcome. This is where SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) can be a very useful tool to create a shared understanding of what “success” will look like. If everyone is headed in the same direction, it’s a lot easier to work together on the necessary steps to get there.   

The Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT) is an academic institute training students in the creative competencies that today’s job market demands — critical thinking, creative problem solving and cross-disciplinary collaboration — while applying those same skills to the students’ diverse disciplines of study. IACT is now launching micro-credentialing opportunities in partnership with Education Design Lab. Students enrolled in our courses have the opportunity to earn badges through Acclaim by Credly that can be added immediately and directly to their resume and LinkedIn profile, demonstrating to employers their ability to navigate applied creativity skills within their organization and setting them apart from other job/internship/co-op candidates. Learn more at 


Badge graphics and competencies copyright Education Design Lab, 2019.

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