Developing individual creativity for environmental sustainability: Using an everyday theme in higher education

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Creativity literature was criticized for its bias towards conventional areas (e.g. arts), and creativity studies in domains less concerned about creativity, such as environmental sustainability (ES), are rare. This study aimed to understand the development of "creativity for ES" (pro-ES creativity) of common tertiary students. Based on a pro-environmental behaviour model and a pro-sustainability competence model found in literature, a pro-ES creative learning curriculum was designed and integrated into an existing toy course in a university of Hong Kong. A total of 20 students from three cohorts were interviewed, and their feedback was analysed inductively with open-coding by the consensus of two experts. Together with their affecting factors, five learning outcomes emerged as attributes of pro-ES creativity: sensitivity and problem-finding; creative problem-solving abilities; affinity for self-creating life-style; creative systems thinking and futures thinking; and reconceptualization of creativity and ES. This study discovered that creativity, as a kind of self-actualization, had developed both individual competences and intrinsic motivation, which are conducive to life-long self-determining ES behaviours. This study informs the education field that the five attributes of pro-ES creativity can be enhanced in a curriculum based on a simple everyday theme. As such, pro-ES creativity education can be integrated into many existing curricula. Going beyond ES, this study shed light on creativity studies of other less popular areas. It suggested a dual domain-specific-general creativity education approach and a dual deductive-inductive research approach for developing creativity theories and curriculum of "low-creativity" domains. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100567
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Early online dateMay 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019



Cheng, V. M. Y. (2019). Developing individual creativity for environmental sustainability: Using an everyday theme in higher education. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 33. Retrieved from


  • Creativity development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Pro-ES creativity
  • Everyday theme
  • Higher education
  • Integrated curriculum
  • Chinese context
  • Sensitivity
  • Problem-finding
  • Creative Problem solving
  • Self-creating life-style
  • Systems thinking
  • Future thinking
  • Re-conceptualization
  • Consensual assessment
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Self-determining behaviors
  • Low-creativity domain
  • Dual domain-specific-general creativity education