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Anna Craft Memorial Lecture 2023: Creative ruptions for emergent educational futures

Kerry Chappell, Associate Professor at University of Exeter

As a close colleague and friend of Anna, it was a real privilege to be asked to give the 2023  Anna Craft Memorial Lecture. Given how well I knew Anna, it was unlike any other lecture I have given. It was an amazing opportunity to reflect on my work and relationship with her, and how, since Anna left us in 2014, I have continued to develop thinking in the field towards a new book focused on the notion of ‘creative ruptions’.

I first met Anna when I asked her to be my PhD supervisor because of the parallels that I found with her ways of conceptualising creativity – Possibility Thinking – as opening possibilities through asking What if?, and my own intrigue with how questioning and dialogue drive creativity. I worked with Anna on numerous Possibility Thinking research projects and I learned a huge amount about how to be a professional academic researcher in a very nurturing environment.

From around 2011 onwards, Anna and I co-developed the Wise Humanising Creativity theory as a response to the growing global challenges that we could see facing education – this was a conceptual way to combine thinking from her forefronting of wisdom when discussing Possibility Thinking and my conceptual work on embodied dialogue as the driver for creativity. In the lecture I talk about researching this concept empirically on international initiatives such as Creat-it,  C2Learn, the Carousel Project and the Siobhan Davies Next Choreography Project. I went on to share the difficult decision I took soon after Anna’s passing to shift towards my new conceptualisation of (posthumanising) creativity (Chappell, 2018). This draws on thinking from posthumanism and new materialism arguing that we need to decentre ourselves as humans and acknowledge how we intra-act with the environment and objects around us. I argue that it is only by working and thinking in this way, with transformative ethics, that we really stand a chance of effectively responding to the Anthropocentric problems that we have created. This was challenging because it meant letting go of ideas that Anna and I had honed together. However, this was part of acknowledging that a purely human focus for creativity is not enough; and trusting that Anna would have understood why this shift was necessary.

In the lecture, I was then able to take the time to offer insights into how this new idea is being used to further different ways of being and becoming in international education and research initiatives such as CREATIONS (Chappell et al., 2019), the Higher Education Incubator Project  (Chappell et al., 2021), SciCulture/D, Ocean Connections and the Global Science Opera and how I have also recently been able to offer insight into my entangled postqualitative methodological journey (Chappell, 2021). All of these projects interrogate the posthumanising creativity idea: for example, considering how objects and environments can be brought into science-arts school-based education for student activism; how the other-than-human can weave into higher education transdisciplinary practice to develop more productive responses to wicked problems, and what kinds of methodologies support these changes.

‘The power for change is in all of our hands, and this can accumulate together to make a real difference in education.’

The culmination of my work with Anna is very much present in a forthcoming book, Creative Ruptions for Emergent Educational Futures, which I shared at the end of the lecture. The book offers insight into how ethical, careful educational futures might responsively emerge through the generative potential of creativity and its associated ruptions. ​In the book we aim to offer direct educational responses to the daunting and unpredictable challenges that we all, human and other-than-human, now face. The final chapter accumulates together all of the different ruptions from across the book. It sees power for change in creativity that works from the bottom up; it offers hope that there are new and different alternatives for our educational futures that are not reliant on dominantly Western rational thought systems; and it aims to emphasise that the power for change is in all of our hands, and that this can accumulate together to make a real difference in education.

The book will be published, open access, in 2024. We’re looking forward to spreading our thinking, and debating; and to making the kind of change happen that Anna would have fully appreciated.


Chappell, K. (2018). From wise humanising creativity to (post-humanising) creativity. In A. Harris, P. Thomson & K. Snepvangers (Eds.), Creativity policy, partnerships and practice in education (pp. 279–306). Palgrave Macmillan.

Chappell, K., Hetherington, L., Alexopoulous, A., Ben-Horin, O., Nikolopoulos, K., Ruck-Keene, H., Wren, H., Robberstad, J., Bogner, F., & Sotiriou, S. (2019). Dialogue and materiality/ embodiment in science/arts creative pedagogy: Their role and manifestation. Thinking Skills and Creativity Special Issue, 31, 296–322.

Chappell, K., Natanel, K., & Wren, H. (2021). Letting the ghosts in: Re-designing HE teaching and learning through posthumanism. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(8), 2066–2088.

Chappell, K. (2021). Researching posthumanizing creativity: Expanding, shifting, and disrupting. Qualitative Inquiry, 28(5), 496–506.

Chappell, K., Turner, C., & Wren, H. (2024). Creative ruptions for emergent educational futures. Palgrave Macmillan.

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