Creativity...consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.
All well and good. And clearly we can see that to meet the difficult problems we face in public health we need to be innovative - to find novel solutions to important problems - because obviously the persistence of the problems indicates that we haven't hit on all (or the best) solutions just yet. But I wonder whether the way we teach public health and the systems that we practice within - particularly the paradigm of evidence-based public health - foster innovation. It's not even clear that to me that we make space for idea generation let alone the supportive structures necessary to turn new ideas into something useful.
As I've written elsewhere the recent PHAA conference had a strong advocacy theme and the message that came through loud and clear was the need for cross-sectoral collaboration, that we need to work together, and to find new friends in unaccustomed places.
While I was in Melbourne I was lucky enough to visit the National Gallery of Victoria and see the wonderful clinamen 2013 acoustic installation by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot. As the accompanying essay by Max Delany explains: "One hundred and more white porcelain bowls float on the surface of an expansive, intensely blue pool. The water is heated to optimise the porcelain’s acoustic resonance. Swept along by submarine currents, the floating crockery circulates gently, colliding as percussive instruments which create a resonant, chiming soundscape." I was struck by the question: what prompts the artist to reconceptualise the object in this way?
So this week on @WePublicHealth I want to start a conversation about this and about innovation in public health more broadly. Think of it as a mini-twitter conference. Every day I will find an interesting website or a TED talk or an academic paper and tweet about it (like I would if watching a conference presentation). I know that there is a lot of innovative things happening in public health (and not just in collaboration with the arts). We would like to crowdsource ideas, examples, discussions around this topic and at the end of the week I will blog about it here, and it will be cross posted at Croakey.
Who knows where it might lead?