A large 3D sign that reads, “Creativity + Innovation.”

An NYU education equips students with a suite of skills to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world. Adapting to new fields, standing out from the crowd, and building a rewarding career require bold action and inventive thinking. Now, at NYU Shanghai, the new Creativity and Innovation minor teaches students to unlock their creative selves.

“To me, the Creativity and Innovation minor really puts a focus on critical and reflective thinking. That really helped me look inward and explore myself,” shares Isabella Yap. She’s a Business and Marketing major with minors in Chinese Language and Creativity and Innovation. “I have always thought of myself as a creative person but not in the traditional sense. For instance, I’m not good at drawing or making physical art. Then, when this minor was introduced, it felt like a perfect fit.”

Tools for the Future

This spring, the first cohort of students earned the new minor. “We had courses in mind that were really focused on how we each think—and can change how we think—and less on the acquisition of existing knowledge,” explains Professor Adam Brandenburger. He’s the director for the Program on Creativity and Innovation at NYU Shanghai. “Our view was that this area would be very meaningful for students to examine as part of their educational journey. And, moreover, that creation and innovation mindsets would be very important in the 21st-century world of work. So, after going down this learning curve, we felt ready to offer something that we believe is pathbreaking: the Creativity and Innovation minor.”

A large group of students working on art projects at a table.

Everyone Can Be Creative

While creativity is often framed as an inherent quality, Creativity and Innovation minors come from all different majors and backgrounds. Furthermore, there are no program requirements. “Any NYU Shanghai student can minor in Creativity and Innovation. This is so important to us,” says Brandenburger. “We want students from the humanities, the sciences, and business—everyone—to have the chance to complement their major with a minor devoted to enhancing their innate creativity.” Going forward, the team plans to open the minor to students across NYU’s global network, bringing in experiences and mindsets from around the world.

“I had wanted to study business, but I also consider myself a creative person. So, I took Creativity Considered, now a mandatory course for the minor, out of curiosity,” reflects Cindy Li. She’s a Global China Studies major, triple-minoring in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology; Producing; and Creativity and Innovation. “After the Creativity and Innovation minor became an option, I realized it aligned with how I see my career path. I feel that I will be more creative but also not entirely an artist.”

The exterior of the NYU Shanghai campus.

Going Beyond the Classroom

The required Experience Studio course series is a key aspect of the Creativity and Innovation minor. Just by reading the course titles, you can tell these classes are anything but ordinary. Options include Bicycle Kingdom: The Business and Culture of Bicycles in Shanghai; Create Your Digital Brand Through Storytelling; and Dine and Design: Crafting Meaningful Culinary Experiences. Isabella, who took two of the courses, says, “It allows the world—or wherever you are—to act as your classroom. I explored places in Shanghai that I would have never seen and ended up with a greater appreciation of the city.” For one Experience Studio course, Isabella and Cindy traveled to Sanqingshan, a sacred mountain several hours from Shanghai by bullet train. There, they learned about Taoism and soaked in nature to connect with their inner creators.

Students sitting on the floor of a museum lobby.

New Innovations, New Possibilities

“The minor really excels at helping you find your passion and niche rather than teaching you textbook skills,” explains Cindy. “Life Design helped me map out all the things I could see myself doing, and Experience Studio allowed me to spend time immersing myself in an activity I truly enjoy.” Isabella adds, “I think the beauty of this minor is that you can kind of do anything with it. The faculty are amazing, valuable mentors, and you get to do a lot of critical thinking and self-reflection. Ultimately, the biggest highlight of my experience is that I found a lot of confidence in myself.”