The following was written and submitted by Matt Boxler, Director of Media Relations at Salve Regina University.

Their original plans to climb aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship for an interactive lesson on creativity were cast away by the coronavirus outbreak, but 22 Salve Regina freshmen and the Rhode Island ship’s educational leadership team altered their course in a virtual direction.

Rather than cancel the session altogether, Dr. Myra Edelstein, associate professor of business studies and economics at Salve, and the team at Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island worked out a solution. The students in Edelstein’s “Creativity & Innovation” seminar attended a Webex class instead on Thursday morning, April 2.

As the featured speaker, Capt. Jonathan Kabak, the CEO of OHPRI, addressed the topic of how a well-planned and formal management process on board the ship allows for creativity and innovation when the opportunities present themselves. His main point focused on the need for knowledge, control and understanding which, in turn, leads to creativity.  

The class also included a virtual “live” tour of the Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship presented by the ship’s engineer, Jackson Hruschka. This modified event was organized with the help of Jennifer Kendrigan, OHPRI’s educational programs manager.

“There is nothing like the sound and smell of the ship on the water – even dockside – but we launched this initiative in the virtual environment and, hopefully, sparked some good interest in getting the students aboard for real when the future allows,” said Edelstein. “This is a unique opportunity for students and the Oliver Hazard Perry educational crew’s willingness to work with us is just wonderful.”

Capt. Kabak said the discipline and formality of structured preparedness is what allows for creativity and innovation, especially when unpredictable seas throw chaos at a crew. “Structure frees us up to think more broadly and creatively,” he said. “This is how creativity flourishes.”

Edelstein’s course, UNV102-P2 Creativity & Innovation, is a freshman writing seminar where students build a “tool box” of activities to encourage creative thinking and to improve their writing skills. During each class period, Edelstein brings new and engaging activities to the course with the intent to inspire the students to explore and expand their use of creativity and creative problem solving.

OHPRI provides innovative and empowering education programs at sea and ashore to promote personal growth and professional development, while raising awareness of opportunities in the Maritime Industry, Marine Trades, and Defense Sector for the communities of Rhode Island and Southern New England.

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