Professor Brendan McCormack

Professor Brendan McCormack

The dance of creative partnering in research: being present with the whole person

We need to develop a practice that is first of all integrative – bringing together science, ethics and aesthetics. It must also be ecological – recognising limits to growth and engaging with other complex adaptive systems that influence human health. It should also be ethical – respecting human rights and raising human consciousness globally. To achieve some of this we will have to be more creative – envisioning a better future and unblocking the forces that impede creativity. To inspire us, the future for which we work should be beautiful – a future that raises our spirits and fires our imagination. We should encourage and support each other to embody the change we want to see in the world and to become more reflexive and more self-aware of our own mindset and practice (Hanlon et al, 2012).

Since the late nineties, I have been involved in research, facilitation and collaborative practices that have gone a long way to making Hanlon et al’s ideas of integration, ethics, aesthetics, creativity, and beauty a living reality through our conceptual, theoretical and methodological developments in critical creativity. In this presentation I will define critical creativity before outlining its bedrock, landscape, and ecology. I will do this through an informal telling of my own travels through different bedrocks and landscapes to arrive at the ecology of three deeply connected mandalas – philosophical/ theoretical, methodological and human flourishing.  Together they offer a cumulative framework for embodying and living critical creativity. Put another way, together they are a mandala of mandalas that researchers can learn to ‘dance’. I will illustrate the integration of these mandalas in practice through the BOLD Programme – a social leadership development and evaluation programme with persons living with dementia.

“Dance as if language had surrendered to movement – as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness … Dancing as if language no longer existed because words were no longer necessary”.

(Dancing at Lughnasa by Brien Friel)

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