• DES 1111, 3 credits
  • Faculty Coordinator: Brad Hokanson
  • Sponsoring U of M Department: Design, Housing, and Apparel
  • Fulfills U of M Requirement(s): Meets U of M degree credit requirements for all majors such as departmental major, minor, or elective requirements; course is required for BS in Retail Merchandising
  • Teacher Applications: Check the Applicant Handbook for details

Course Information

This course provides the chance to explore and engage with contemporary and historic practice in the creative fields, principally in art and design through a series of personal and creative activities. This course promotes the exploration of new media as well as traditional practice through personal involvement in creativity and creative practice. Central to the mission of the course is the development of your personal traits of creativity, thoughtful analysis, ingenuity, experimentation and the ability to solve problems. The goal of this course is to create a lasting, permanent, and integrated connection between the student, their own creativity, and the creative fields.

Class size limit: 34

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Development of creative capability applicable to all fields of study. Problem solving techniques. Theory of creativity/innovation.

Student Qualifications

Juniors or seniors from all fields with 3.0 GPA or instructor approval are welcome to apply. Open to 10th graders only with instructor permission.

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps.


Required: Johnson, S. 2009. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Riverhead Trade, NY. (Cost is approximately $11.99 for a paperback, $6.99 for an ebook on Amazon in 2021)

Optional: Hokanson, B. 2017. Developing Creative Thinking Skills in Learners, Routledge, NY. (Cost is approximately $26.00 for a paperback, $18.00 for an ebook on Amazon in 2021)

External testing using the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, if used, is $27 per student; two rounds of a 45-minute test of creativity scored by the publisher.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when a course is being piloted?

A CIS pilot is a U of M Twin Cities course that is in the first years of being taught in high schools through CIS. During the pilot phase, the U of M faculty coordinator and accepted CIS instructors collaborate to ensure the teaching and learning experience is equivalent to an on-campus student experience. CIS works closely with the faculty coordinator (who provides support and professional development to CIS instructors) to determine if the course will become a sustainable CIS offering.

Is there a training and mentoring system for teachers new to CIS?

The faculty coordinator welcomes phone or email check-ins with individual teachers during the term to supplement the workshops during the school year and summer. A cohort listserv facilitates easy communications. New teachers also benefit from an orientation to College in the Schools that will familiarize them with the support available through CIS as well as prepare them for administrative tasks such as registering students and posting grades.

High school class schedules vary: can this course be taught by teachers on a block schedule?

The course is flexible and can be taught in a variety of schedules. A minimum of three sessions per week is required, but the course can be paced to accommodate a five class sessions a week schedule as well.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?

CIS teachers attend professional development workshops each term and in the summer to stay current with U of M curricula and the CIS program, to learn about innovative research and developments in the field, network, and share materials. Workshops serve as faculty meetings with course and program development discussions with special attention dedicated to content, pedagogy, assessment, and grading of the college courses.

What happens at typical student field days?

Students will visit the College of Design and view opportunities for study in the College, including graphic design, architecture, and product design.

High Schools Offering This Course

  • Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (Vadnais Heights)
  • Anoka High School
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's (Saint Louis Park)
  • Minnetonka High School