January 09, 2015, BY Maureen Harmon

Collaboration is a key component of the Extreme Creativity course, which culminates in a student performance.

Students enrolled in Bucknell's Extreme Creativity Course greeted each other on campus by crossing their forearms to create an X and tweeted at each other using #extreme — a way of expressing their camaraderie in creativity to the nth degree. The course, funded through the Presidential Arts Initiative established in 2010, really is pretty intense. It brings together students of all disciplines and backgrounds for two to three hours a night, two to three nights a week, over the course of five weeks.

"Even the time commitment is over-the-top," said Professor Barry Long, music, Bucknell's arts coordinator and co-leader of the program for the 2013–2014 academic year.

"Sometimes it felt like this class was overtaking their lives," added Professor of Theatre & Dance Dustyn Martincich, the other co-leader of the course, "but they were into it."

The idea behind the course is to explore creativity through different lenses — dance, music, photography, videography — and to use that creativity to question broad and complicated topics related to identity, including race and class issues, through class discussions with faculty in a wide range of disciplines inside and outside the arts.

"By opening myself up to the experience," said Beth Klunk '14, "I was able to receive incredible support from the class community and push myself outside the limits I thought I had." The course culminates in a performance curated and created by the students in consultation with faculty and a guest artist.

The end result pushed students far out of their comfort zones as they explored their own backgrounds and upbringing through a performance, "Baggage Claims: Unpacking the Past," which was created in collaboration with Artist-in-Residence Garrett Fisher, whose work combines different elements of theater and music for the stage.

The faculty involved in the course — including Professor Carmen Gillespie, English, who first envisioned Extreme Creativity — hope that students never lose touch with the arts no matter where they find themselves in life.

"As they go off into doing whatever it is that they do," said Long, "I hope they embrace the risk-taking and fearlessness that they had in the course. Even if they're on Wall Street, I hope that they remain immersed in the arts."

This story originally appeared in Bucknell Magazine. To read more from the latest issue, click here.