‘Chronosynclastic infundibulum,’ or community building in action

The Sirens of Titan

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Business and creativity are not the opposites some people think they are. In fact, in Dr. Richard Pernell’s MGT 502, Management & Leadership, students learn a blend of business and creativity in the form of  chronosynclastic infundibulum.’

This class was Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9’s first. It is designed to foster constructive approaches and methods to enhance creativity, innovation, employee motivation and career success. The cohort quickly built a sense of unity, trust and respect with each other that will strengthen over the next 18 months.

Chronosynclastic infundibulum is defined in Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan as the following:

A point in space where, upon a person entering it, that person’s existence in space-time ceases to be linear, becoming discrete. This means that a person that has entered a chronosynclastic infundibulum exists at multiple points and lines in space-time. For example, such a person could exist at all points in time in one place and also appear at another point for five minutes.

According to Dr. Pernell, chronosynclastic infundibulum’s obscurity is just what makes illustrating it the perfect assignment. “It’s all about their learning,” explained Dr. Pernell. The team members, divided into three groups, were thrown into an ambiguous situation with unclear expectations and a fuzzy evaluation process.

“They are developing as a community through experiential learning,” continued Pernell. “This type of learning has emotion as the glue to stick the learning to their experience and is therefore cemented in different parts of the brain to be retrieved at the appropriate time for use. Their presentations illustrated their commitment, not necessarily to the product itself, but rather to the structured action that produced it. This structured action is essentially ‘community building in action,’ the major outcome of MGT 502. Their presentations let all of us view their thinking in a way that was unrestricted by their previous learning patterns.”

One group created a movie as the platform of its presentation and paired it with a performance. “It was a true representation of each person’s creative talents coming together,” said team member Christina Laemers. “We created an original poem set to representative music and imagery, and further appealed to the senses with an interpretive reading that incorporated elements of taste, texture, scent and sound. The journey of creating the project was the real learning experience, most notably learning how to collaborate as a group, discover each other’s strengths and allowing ourselves to trust one another. I thoroughly enjoyed working and presenting with my team as well as watching what the other groups came up with!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp3OjFuZ3dw&w=560&h=315]

Another team performed a poetic reading of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (LSD), complete with lighting, sound effects and props. “We were trying to have Cohort 9 travel though time and space into a chronosynclastic infundibulum where all the different kinds of truths fit together and then bring them back to the classroom,” explained student Toshi Matsumura. “Our props included a spinning color ball, flashlights with colored cellophane, rain sticks, citrus and lavender fragrances, train sounds, stream sounds and kaleidoscope motions on the two front white boards (by jones). The team not only enjoyed presenting to Cohort 9, but also the time spent together to prepare for the presentation.”

A third team used its collective artistic talents to create a movie using puppetry and sound effects to show their interpretation. “I really enjoyed this project because the creativity allowed us to let our guards down and act a little silly, which was beneficial during a time when we’re still getting to know each other,” said Lindsay Swantek, a member of the third group. “It was enjoyable to see how each group interpreted the meaning so differently. I have a feeling we’ll always reflect back on the memories of these presentations with a smile!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goFsPmfPR2Y&w=560&h=315]

With course No. 1 now complete and 16 more to go, Cohort 9 has worked hard to develop meaningful connections with one another, with the assistance of Dr. Pernell and Professor Peggy Stahl.  Members of the cohort are partners in each other’s learning, and their sense of excitement will undoubtedly propel them through the academic journey ahead.