The Center for Applied Imagination is home to research and education in the fields of creativity, creative problem-solving, and creative leadership. For more than half a century, CAI has offered instruction in creativity and stands as the first educational institution in the world to offer graduate-level courses and a master of science in Creativity Studies.
Founded by Dr. Alex F. Osborn—an outstanding creative practitioner and the “O” in the global advertising firm BBDO–and Dr. Sidney J. Parnes—a pioneering academic and scholar, the Center carries the unique vision of its founding fathers to this day. The duo developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem-Solving Model, still seen today as the gold-standard for innovation practices and is the basis for almost every known method of creative problem-solving (e.g., Design Thinking). We take deep pride in continuing to move this tradition forward by balancing scholarly research and theory with practical, real-world applications.
What started more than 60 years ago as an ambition of two visionary men, and their colleague and computer science thought leader Dr. Ruth Noller, has morphed in time into a complex ecosystem that exists to ignite and excite the study and understanding of creativity around the world.
As part of the State University of New York, one of the country's largest university systems, the Center is located at the Buffalo State campus. The Center’s core thrust is its academic programs offered through the Creativity and Change Leadership Department. However, as a center for creativity, we THINK BIGGER. As such the Center for Applied Imagination offers a robust range of resources and activities, including: the Sidney Parnes Library and Archival Collection (one of the world's largest collection of creativity texts); conferences and professional development opportunities; a digital collection of audio recordings of some of the key pioneers in the field of creativity; and, one of our greatest resources, our family of more than 800 alumni.
As advocates for the timeless merit and value of creativity and imagination, our vision is of a near future where applied creativity and problem-solving are taught in every educational institution and at every level, everywhere in the world.