The Geography of Creativity
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The Geography of Creativity

Gunnar Törnqvist

What is creativity and who exactly is creative? In this insightful and highly readable book, Gunnar Törnqvist attempts to answer these questions by arguing that geographical millieux are hotbeds for creativity and renewal – places where pioneers in art, technology and science have gathered and developed their special abilities.
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Chapter 9: Research Milieux Par Préférence

Gunnar Törnqvist


The previous discussion about breeding grounds of creative processes asked whether it is meaningful to treat big cities as cohesive settings. The same question can be raised with respect to universities and large research institutes. An in-depth review reveals that centres of radical renewal and excellence are usually restricted to individual departments or teams of researchers rather than entire institutions. They are creative islands in the plethora of activities and projects that colleges and universities pursue these days. The literature describes a number of such oases. 9.1 Focal points of renewal Researchers are generally able to identify settings that are pre-eminent in their particular disciplines. But surveys of social scientists and humanities researchers demonstrate that the actual institutions are not the important units, strictly speaking, but a handful of people who are or have been affiliated with them for a certain period of time.1 The results differ when it comes to scientific disciplines for which research relies on expensive 104 M2809 - TORNQVIST 9781781001509 PRINT.indd 104 16/11/2011 14:10 Research milieux par préférence 105 equipment. Take the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) outside of Geneva, Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory outside of Oxford. Large accelerators and neutron sources of this type (currently planned or under construction in the US, Japan and Europe) require billions of euros in capital expenditures and are used by thousands of scientists around the world.2 Following is an account of some scientific milieux that the memoirs...

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