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CIL Featured Speakers

Amanda Cravens: Creativity in Research

Amanda Cravens '04 (Honors History Major) returned to Swarthmore to present on her and her team’s work and lead a workshop of what this looks like in application. Amanda is a research social scientist for a US federal agency. She co-founded the Research as Design project to adapt design thinking training for researchers with Nicola Ulibarri, Anja Svetina Nabergoj, and Adam Royalty when she realized how much her past experience as a web designer was influencing her scholarship.

Creativity is at the heart of successful research, yet researchers are rarely taught how to manage their creative process, and modern academic life is not structured to optimize creativity. Creativity in Research provides concrete guidance on developing creativity for anyone doing or mentoring research. Based on a curriculum developed at Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, this book presents key abilities that underlie creative research practice through a combination of scientific literature on creative confidence, experiential exercises, and guided reflection. By focusing attention on how research happens as well as its outputs, researchers increase their ability to address research challenges and produce the outputs they care about. Simultaneously, they may also transform their emotional relationship with their work, replacing stress and a harsh inner critic with a more open and emotionally empowered attitude.

Rachel Simmons: Failure - How To Do It Well

Rachel Simmons, an award winning author and speaker, has visited and led workshops at Swarthmore in Fall 2017 and Fall 2018. Simmons is the author of Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives, and the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl.

Rachel’s two visits were centered around failure resiliency and how as a student at Swarthmore, failure often seems a stigmatized subject - one that we collectively avoid in the pursuit of perfection. Given the plethora of projects Swarthmore students undertake, however, it is undoubtedly a more common part of every students life than many care to admit. We all fail, so why not try to do it well? How can you take risks if you're afraid of failing? How can you set goals that feel attainable? The Failure Workshop gives students the opportunity to better understand the root of these anxieties and help practice self compassion, interpret feedback in novel ways, and ultimately fail better. 

Student Feedback
“This workshop was particularly useful to me because I thought it could be applied to my life as a student, as an athlete, and in my everyday life as I'm making decisions for post-graduation. It's not just me who feels stress and anxiety about failing and about potential outcomes. It seems like it should be obvious, but it was so nice to hear someone whose life work is to spread this message to other people. ” 

“The failure workshop not only inspired individual confidence, but also promoted the development of a deeply introspective student community. I would absolutely recommend this to other students and to be replicated in the future!”



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