The importance of creativity: a professor’s view

Rachel Fountain

World of Warcraft, classical singing and academic research are three things that convention says are unrelated. For CSU journalism professor Dr. Rosa Mikeal Martey, nothing could be farther from the truth.

When she’s not teaching classes, Martey can be found researching online gaming or exercising her classical singing expertise in the Larimer Chorale. The creative and artistic elements of Dr. Martey’s life are not separate from the formal, academic aspects. In fact, they are intertwined.


“The creative things that I do in my life, like singing, are really important parts of what makes my research and teaching go,” Martey said.

 Creativity, defined by Martey as seeing the world and interacting with people and objects in different ways, has been a useful tool in helping Martey to succeed in areas of her life where creativity wouldn’t ordinarily be applied.

“For me I think creativity is that engaging with ideas and the world around you in new ways,” Martey said. “It’s that variety of how you engage that makes it creative.”

One aspect of Martey’s research focuses on how people respond to the art of a game, particularly World of Warcraft and Second Life. Even in academic research, creativity has played an important role for Martey.

“I am thinking about and interested in how the visuals move you, the emotional aspect, which is something that artists but usually not scientists are paying a lot of attention to,” Martey said.

Martey has also worked with artists and developers to create games to study.

“I was there drawing pictures and writing character dialogue as part of the creative process,” Martey said.

Creativity has also informed Martey’s teaching. Her musical and theatrical experiences have translated into skills that can be applied in the classroom as well as on stage.

“My training as a musician and in theater is part of what forms the foundation of my teaching,” Martey said. “As a teacher I need to know how to stand up in front of a room, keep talking no matter what I’m thinking…I have to keep a smile on my face and I have to make sense.”

Creativity is the thread that not only combines singing and teaching, but also equips Martey to be a better teacher.


“As a theater and musician person, used to performing and responding to a public, I become a much better teacher because I can understand that performer-audience relationship and I can step out of it when I need to.”

Martey advocates for everyone, including students to exercise creativity and to engage with the world in new and different ways, knowing from experience how creative involvement can be an important part of success.

“Giving yourself that different perspective will make all of your work, creative and non-creative, better,” Martey said.

Collegian Arts and Culture reporter Rachel Fountain can be reached at or on Twitter @rachelcfountain.