Welcome to Dr. Kim's World of Innovation & Creativity!

Dr. KH Kim, is an Associate Professor of Innovation & Creativity at The College of William & Mary, in Virginia, USA. She is the CEO of Nebulys Technologies, Incand a co-inventor of several innovative high-tech bio-medical devices. She previously taught at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Georgia, after teaching English in Korea for 10 years. She trains groups of individuals around the world, helping foster their creativity. In 2010, her study “the Creativity Crisis (Kim, 2011)," featured in Newsweek opened a national and international dialogue on the importance of creativity in education and business.
The study showed the United States has been experiencing a decline in creativity since 1990. Previously in 2005, she dispelled the myth that intelligence and creativity are the same, and her meta-analysis showed that there is only a negligible relationship between IQ and creativity test scores (Kim, 2005).

Dr. Kim regularly receives honors and awards for her research including:
  • 2012: The Torrance Legacy Speaker (The 2012 Torrance Lecturer) from the Torrance Center and the College of Education at the University of Georgia
  • 2011: The Early Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
  • 2009: The Berlyne Award from the American Psychology Association (APA)
  • 2009: The New Voice in Intelligence and Creativity Award from the University of Kansas and the Counseling Laboratory for the Exploration of Optimal States
  • 2008: The Hollingworth Award from NAGC
  • 2008: The Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Research Award from Eastern Michigan University (EMU)
  • 2007: The Faculty Scholarship Recognition Research Award form EMU
  • 2005: The Doctoral Student Research Award from NAGC
  • 2005: The E. Paul Torrance Graduate Student Research Award from the American Creativity Association (ACA)
  • 2004: The Graduate Student Research Award from the International Council of Psychologists (ICP).

Dr. Kim is one of the foremost authorities on creativity and assessment of creativity in the world. Her article “Can We Trust Creativity Tests? (Kim, 2005)” is one of the most often read articles in the field. Besides her study, "The Creativity Crisis," her assessments of sample creativity tests “How Creative Are You?” were also featured in Newsweek (2010). She is regularly showcased in national and international news interviews, among them The Washington Post, The U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal(video), Time, The Metro World News (England). Superinteressante (Brazil), Periodista La Tercera (Chile), Korrespondent (Ukraine), and The Globe and Mail (Canada). She serves on the editorial board of major journals in Education and Psychology including, The Creativity Research Journal and The Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, and serves as the co-editor of the World Journal of Behavioral Science. She is also on the advisory board of The Creativity Post. She is the Chair of the Creativity Network of NAGC, and is co-editor of the book, Creatively Gifted Students Are Not Like Other Gifted Students: Research, Theory, and Practice. She believes that her new book, “The Creativity Challenge: How We Can Recapture American Innovation” will change the world!
Dr. Kim's research interests are:
Focusing on promoting innovation and creativity in individuals , she has
  • developed the Creative CAT model (Climate, Attitude, & Thinking), which identifies the effects of creative climates on creative attitudes and the effects of creative attitudes on creative thinking skills;
  • developed the 4S Creativity model (soil, sun, storm, & space), which cultivates creative climates that nurture creative attitudes in individuals;
  • developed the ION Creative Thinking model (Inbox, Outbox, & Newbox), which establishes inbox (expertise & critical thinking), outbox (fluent, flexible, & original thinking), and newbox (synthesis, transformation, & presentation) thinking skills for creative thinking that leads to innovation;
  • developed the Apple Creative Thinking Process model, which consists of four seasons of winter (expertise accumulation & needs identification), spring (idea generation, subconscious processing, & idea evaluation), summer (idea synthesis & idea transformation), and fall (idea presentation) creative thinking processes;
  • identified both positive and negative aspects of creative individuals' personality traits and attitudes;
  • assessed creative behaviors in various ways and examined the reliability and validity of creativity assessments;
  • developed effective educational interventions and curriculum for cultivating creative climates and nurturing creative attitudes and behaviors in students;
  • developed effective parenting strategies that cultivate creative climates in the homes, nurture creative attitudes in the children, and produce creative thinking skills in their minds.

Please click the link for a recent William & Mary news article about Dr. Kim's international speaking engagements.

"Researcher KH Kim Captivates Audiences"
by Erin Breedlove, Creativity Scholar at the Torrance Center
Dr. KH Kim, a researcher with international acclaim in the field of creativity, presented the 2012 Torrance Lecture at the University of Georgia. The lecture celebrates the work of the late E. Paul Torrance and current trends in the field of creativity. Dr. Kim worked with Dr. Torrance during his final months. She also found her mentor, Dr. Bonnie Cramond, during graduate study at the Torrance Center. Dr. Kim and her research have appeared in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The U.S. News & World Report, and The Washington Post, as well as numerous international media.

The Torrance Center and the College of Education, The University of Georgia, sponsor the lecture each April to reflect current issues and research in the field of creativity. Kim’s research studies and writings are relevant to both academics and the general public because she raises important questions surrounding critical issues, such as the effects of standardized testing on the attitudes of children, and the accuracy and validity of tests used in employment and academic placements. For example, Kim’s research discovered that there is only a negligible relationship between IQ and creativity. “You can have a low IQ and be creative,” she says.

According to the College of Education at the University of Georgia, Kim’s work “dropped a bomb” with the July 19, 2011 Newsweek cover story that reported a significant decrease in creativity scores that were on the rise prior to1990. Kim also reports, “The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking predict creative achievement three times better than IQ tests.”

Her passion for her work captivates audiences. Through candid discussion of her childhood in South Korea, she reveals that through the support of one of her teachers at a young age, she became the first female from her village who went on to high school, and she eventually earned an American Ph.D. Thanks to that teacher, Kim avoided a future as a worker in a sock shop. Her achievements are also impressive because, as she reveals, her parents were among the “one-percent of South Koreans who were illiterate,” with only first and third grade educations.

One of Kim’s major research emphases within the study of creativity is that of divergent thinking, which has been beautifully and dramatically demonstrated through her unique life story. Her lecture focused on her newly developed creativity theory and the importance of fostering creativity. Creativity and lack thereof are key elements to the telling of Kim’s story.

Kim says successful creativity requires a creative climate, a creative attitude, and creative thinking. Creative climate is the physical and psychological support for fostering ideas. Creative attitude is centered on open-mindedness and openness to the novelty of new ideas. Creative thinking is a mixture of convergent and divergent thinking, which are narrow and broad scope thought processes, respectively. A healthy combination of convergent and divergent thinking creates a mental database conducive to creative thought and the development of new, thoughtful ideas and processes.

Despite entering graduate school at the University of Georgia and thinking of herself as “disabled” because her Korean cultural standards prohibited speaking in class, Kim thrived off of the attention shown to her by her mentor, Dr. Bonnie Cramond. Dr. Cramond brought out Kim’s creativity by encouraging her to voice her thoughts and ideas, and by allowing her the freedom to make mistakes and errors. Kim explains that this was fostering Kim’s creative attitude through the creative climate in Dr. Cramond’s classroom. Dr. Hébert further assisted Kim in job interview preparations by changing Kim’s modesty and self-effacement, which is valued in Kim’s own Asian culture, into self-confidence at her job interviews. Eventually Kim was appointed as an assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University in 2005.

Currently, Dr. Kim is an Associate Professor at The College of William and Mary. She earned her tenure last year. She laughs at the widely held misconception among international students, that William and Mary is a community college. “In fact,” she says. “The College is ranked as the fifth best public university in the nation.”

Kim’s poise, generosity, scholarship, and overwhelming kindness have transformed every situation with which she comes in contact. At the conclusion of her lecture, she announced to the enrapt audience that she has elected to donate the entirety of her speaker’s fees to the Torrance Center and to the work of her greatest mentor, Dr. Bonnie Cramond. Kim’s personality, scholarship, sincere devotion to students, and furthering the knowledge of the field of creativity allows so many to consider her a modern day E. Paul Torrance, carrying the legacy of creativity research to the ends of the earth.

"Dr. Kim Speaks in Paris and Nice, France"
By Chip Goldstein, Dr. Kim’s Assistant
Dr. KH Kim recently represented the College of William and Mary and the School of Education in Nice, France, where she was a keynote speaker at the 2012 ECIS Annual Teachers Conference, held in late November. She had previously spoken at the ECIS Annual Administrators Conference held in April 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. Even though the organization is named the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), the 6000 member schools are in 93 countries all around the world. Dr. Kim met with teachers and administrators from across Europe, Great Britain, the Middle East, Africa, as well as North, South, and Central America.

Dr. Kim was one of the featured “TED talk” lecturers who presented live all over the world on the Internet stream from the conference. She spoke about the definition of creativity, some common myths that surround creativity, and the researched facts about the science of creativity.

One of the myths is the widely held belief, “I love creativity.” Dr. Kim explained that in reality, people like the status quo, and sometimes IMG_0471.jpg and the hard work leading up to creative products results in adjustment periods and discomfort for the public. Creativity is making something useful that is better, different, and original, so by definition, it upsets the status quo, and may not always be as welcome as the new IPhone. Trend setting avant-garde arts, ideas, and products may initially be despised, rejected, or neglected by the public. So, maybe the creators also experience mal-treatment. Most creative people are not crazy, but they are different from other people in the various typical creative attitudes they express. Homes, schools, and workplaces can encourage creativity by providing a creative climate that allows for expression of creative attitudes.

Dr. Kim illustrates the ideal creative climate to encourage creative attitudes using gardening terms. She describes the Sun Climate of inspiration and encouragement, the Storm Climate of challenge and adversity, the Time Climate of unconscious mental processing and growth, and the Soil Climate of learning resources and experiences. A child in the wrong creative climate cannot express and develop creative attitudes, and the world will be less for the lack of those unrealized creative contributions.

Dr. Kim studies the differences between intelligence and creativity, and at the conference she gave examples of how a person can be very creative and lack intelligence, and vice versa. She discussed the results of her famous “Creativity Crisis” study, and ways for parents, schools, and employers to help reverse the trend.

In another address, a “breakout session,” she talked about the creative development of Marie Curie, and how a creative climate prepared Curie with the typical creative attitudes that led to her winning two Nobel Prizes. Dr. Kim also talked about how those same attitudes invalidated Curie’s scientific contributions in the eyes of the public, when the public scorned her for matters in her personal life and her personality and attitudes. Despite her critics, Curie was able to start the Radium Institute in France, which led to her daughter, her son-in-law, and two of her other students also winning Nobel Prizes. Marie Curie, like the eminent creators who came before her, was led by her passion for her subject to move forward against tremendous obstacles as a minority of one. Her perseverance and resistance led to a new world of medicine and science and technology that continues to unfold as other creators follow the paths she defined. It all started with her creative climate as a child, and there was no magic or special trick that led to all of the wonderful and terrible results that continue to emanate from the isolation of radium and the ongoing study of radiation.

Dr. Kim also ran a teacher’s workshop at the conference, where she divided her international audience into small groups of strangers, and gave them a series of projects and tasks designed to exhibit the creative climate model in several learning modalities. The groups defined something special and unique that they shared that would set their group apart from the others. The groups drew symbolic flags and wrote songs, which they each presented to the entire workshop assembly. The exercises allowed Dr. Kim to exhibit the steps of creative thinking, and participants followed the defined steps to learn how creative thinking occurs. The exercises also showed participants how each of the elements in Dr. Kim’s creative climate model is necessary for creative thinking to take place.

Dr. Kim also attended presentations and learned about the ECIS model. Much of the ECIS philosophy focuses on providing a healthy creative climate for its students. International Schools are mostly English-speaking based schools that welcome students from all different nationalities and languages. These schools tend to attract a lot of transitional families, who may live in several different countries during students’ school years. Central to their learning is instruction in English, even when English is a language they are just learning. International Schools are accustomed to the common problems and needs of their students, so they can better serve this unique subset of families. The families may be living in host countries for any reason, but often they have relocated to their host countries for private enterprise, government, or military work. Some of these families move to a different country every year. Local families also send their children to International Schools because of the careful educational practices and philosophies the schools follow.

Dr. Kim was also invited to speak to an ECIS member school, the International School of Paris (ISP) in Paris, France, where some of the classes and administration are housed in buildings that are well over 100 years old. The buildings are modernized inside, with drop ceilings and contemporary fixtures, so students do not feel like they are schooled in buildings constructed during the Mid-1800’s. Paris is an historic city where artifacts and architecture are plentiful, and buildings like these are not particularly remarkable, except for what takes place inside of them. The children at the ISP seem to flourish in the creative climate provided in that inspirational and multi-cultural backdrop.

At the conference in Nice, Dr. Kim was interrupted by applause, and she was unable to finish her TED talk, but that presentation and some of her other presentations are available on itunes and on youtube. You can learn more about her and her famous research there, or by reading articles about her on the Internet, in Newsweek, US News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal, and a multitude of other national and international publications. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Dr. Kim at kkim@wm.edu.

"Dr. Kim Takes Her Creative CAT Theory to Africa"
By Chip Goldstein, Dr. Kim’s Assistant
Dr. KH Kim of the W&M School of Education traveled to Africa for almost a month, from Mid-December to Mid-January, where she presented her theories of creativity and trained teachers and staff as well as students. School had just reconvened after the summer break, which begins in December there. The students at the African Leadership Academy (ALA: http://www.africanleadershipacademy.org/news/ala-founder-fred-swaniker-cnn) were excited, because they had been visiting their home cities, villages, or refuge camps all over Africa, and they were relieved to be back in the embrace of the boarding school they also called home. These are an elite group of students, and they are used to guests from all over the world, but they were unaccustomed to Asian visitors, like Dr. Kim. They were curious and eager to hear what Dr. Kim had to say and how she could help them grow up to be future leaders for positive change in Africa.

Dr. Kim was especially eager to help, and while the students were on break, she was exploring South Africa, trying to understand how she could make the greatest impact at the ALA. She was in Cape Town, South Africa for Christmas, at the Southern most part of the country, and then she and her assistant drove to a different city almost every day, traveling through the mountains, along the coast, and then into the bush, reading and learning about the places they visited, and in search of ways they could enlighten the ALA and help bring positive change to the African continent. They were in Durban, South Africa, for New Years Eve, and then drove through the Kingdom of Swaziland (i.e., another country next to South Africa) and Kruger National Park, South Africa, before reaching the ALA, in Johannesburg. In her travels, she spoke with almost everyone she met, students of every age, school teachers and administrators, city workers and politicians, security guards and farmers, street vendors, waiters and bartenders, cooks and maids, business and property owners, and the unemployed. She talked with these people about their life stories, and about their schools, teachers, educations, and expectations.

Dr. Kim feels so connected to South Africa and to the continent, because her visit reminds her so much of where she grew up, in South Korea. South Korea in the 60’s and 70’s was very poor. Just like in South Africa, many Koreans lived in squalor, in shacks without utilities, carrying their scant produce to market in baskets balanced on their heads. First, from 1910 to 1945, Japanese colonialism had sought to destroy every aspect of Korean wealth and culture. That ended with the nuclear bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but then the Korean War lasted another three years, resulting in utter decimation and a divided Korea. Strong leadership, education, and hard work elevated South Korea to the industrialized, first world country it is today, which may have made our cell phone, our stereo, and our automobile, but the South Africa of today reminded Dr. Kim of Korea during her childhood. She feels connected to the country, and especially to the students at the ALA.

The ALA is a two year high-school or post high-school program, and students are selected from all over Africa, based on their demonstrated entrepreneurial achievements, community projects achievement, and commitment to Africa. Some of these students have invented water purification systems to bring safe drinking water to their villages. Another student opened a school, so that women in his refuge camp could get an education. Street vendor leagues, public farming efforts, feeding programs: each of the students has pursued various ways of improving their communities, and each has a different story to tell. The ALA brings these disparate groups together, and they all learn to tolerate, appreciate, and synthesize the differences in language, religions, cultures, and others among them at this unique academic village.

Because these students come from all over Africa, the expectation is that the ALA will help change the entire continent. Instead of fighting wars, these future leaders will be able to call on their former classmates to help solve and avoid conflicts. When their communities are facing hunger, they can look to their networks for solutions. Even though the school was just founded in 2007, it has already had students from 48 of Africa’s 55 countries. All of the graduates- all 100 of them- will go to college, probably in an American or European school of some prestige, and each has signed a contract agreeing to return to Africa after college.

The ALA also maintains a strong internship program, both for its students and its graduates in college. During school breaks, students work in internship programs throughout Africa that the school has arranged for them. The school has four staff people making the travel and placement arrangements for this program. The internship program is integral to the ALA’s strategy to recoup on the investment it makes in these children, by maintaining the students’ connections and interests in Africa.

The students take classes in Entrepreneurial Leadership and in Africa Studies, as well as other core subjects, like mathematics and physics. They are also required to be involved in some entrepreneurial effort throughout their schooling. There is a student run snack shop and a student run hair salon. There are farms and import businesses and retail establishments. One student won a 2012 Google Zeitgeist Award for his water purification system that brought potable water to his native village, and he has started a bottling company. Another student is designing an outfit and jewelry that will be worn at this year’s Oscars.

Dr. Kim determined that the ALA provided a creative climate, which is the foundation for creative attitude and creative thinking to be able to occur. A creative climate is an environment and set of psychological safety that allows expression of creative attitudes. When people express their creative attitudes, they can engage in creative thinking, and creativity can result.

Creativity is making something that is useful, and that is also new, better, or different. Creativity is more than just having an unusual or new idea: the idea has to be put into some form so that it can be useful.

Dr. Kim also dispelled a number of myths about creativity. Creativity occurs in science and technology, business, and in every field, and it is not limited to creativity in the arts, as many presume. Creativity occurs on very small levels, as in the kitchen, and on macro levels, as in the contributions of Nobel Prize laureates. Creativity is what keeps making the world better.

Another myth is that creativity increases with intelligence. As Dr. Kim’s research has helped to establish, creativity and intelligence are different abilities, and someone can be very creative and not very intelligent, and vice versa. Creativity does require a level of experience or expertise within a domain or area of thought.

The students at the ALA are uniquely positioned to bring their different experiences together to take on the challenges confronting Africa. South Africa is one of the most stable governments and safest places to visit in Africa; nonetheless, it is plagued with corrupt governments and policemen and other officials asking for bribes. These students are learning how to resist and confront these kinds of problems. The ALA brings speakers like Dr. Kim to give the students tools, solutions, and inspiration for solving Africa’s problems in new, better, and different ways.

At the ALA, Dr. Kim administered a creativity test to the children. She also led a group creative thinking process exercise, where groups of students collaborated to define the most significant underlying problem facing Africa. Dr. Kim had researched and identified the nine major problems facing Africa that was modified from the findings from The South Africa National Planning Commission in 2011. These include:
  1. Too few Africans work. Unemployment rate if extremely high through Africa.
  2. The quality of school education for most people is sub standard.
  3. Poorly located and inadequate infrastructure limits social inclusion and faster economic growth.
  4. Spatial challenges continue to marginalize the poor.
  5. Africa’s growth path is highly resource intensive and hence unsustainable.
  6. The ailing public health system confronts a massive disease burden.
  7. The performance of the public service is uneven.
  8. Corruption undermines state legitimacy and service delivery.
  9. Africa remains a divided society.
At the last stage of the Creative Thinking Process Activities, the students groups presented their ideas in the form of a 45 second commercial, to sell their solutions to an imagined television audience. Their presentations included several which identified poor leadership as the underlying problem facing Africa. From minor government officials, like customs officers and policemen, to the leaders of some African nations, bribery and influence is rife throughout Africa. The commercials by ALA’s young leaders showed some of the ways they would resist that corruption and preserve fairness in governance and in government contracting.

At the teachers training, Dr. Kim presented and exercised activities that promote creative thinking skills. According to Dr. Kim’s Creative CAT theory, the foundation for creativity to occur is present at the ALA. The Academy provides a creative climate that is generally healthy and appropriate where creative attitudes can be expressed. Dr. Kim thus discussed the creative attitudes that are typical in creators, so that the faculty can recognize those attitudes and encourage them. Dr. Kim also presented a series of questions that could be asked in various subjects, such as mathematics, science, arts, and business classes, to encourage development of various creative attitudes in students.

The students at the ALA are seeds of hope that will be scattered back across Africa, and Dr. Kim enjoyed being a part of their multi-faceted education. Many of the students have continued to communicate with her via email and Skype, about ways they can increase their creative thinking skills and how to explore the options available to them creatively. Dr. Kim has also enjoyed sharing the story of her own meager beginnings with these students, who find encouragement in Dr. Kim’s current achievements. With children like the ALA’s, and with a program focused on successful problem finding and solution finding, the ALA’s mission and Dr. Kim’s theories share a lot of common ground. The ALA can further encourage creativity in its students by enriching its creative climate, and by allowing freer expression of creative attitudes. Further, it can acquire a clearer understanding of what creativity is and infuse creative learning exercises into all of its courses. The students come from all over Africa, and they are learning to preserve their identities, while they revel in the idea of being part of a much larger whole. Exploring the differences between cultural perspectives is the kind of place where creativity often emerges. Dr. Kim was honored to share her insights and observations with this special school, and excited from all she had learned on her experiences at the ALA and throughout Africa. It is a special feeling to understand she has been a part of teaching leaders who are going to better Africa and the world.

Dr. Kim Takes Her Creative CAT Theory to the 2013 Near East South Asia Conference in Bangkok, Thailand
By Chip Goldstein, Dr. Kim's Assistant
Imagine educators from Palestine, Israel, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and other Near East and South Asian countries working together to improve creative thinking in their grade schools. This really happened at the 2013 Near East South Asia (NESA) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, held in April near the East bank of the Chao Phram river. Dr. Kyung Hee Kim of the School of Education made a Keynote presentation, and led a two day workshop with an international group of educators, all on the topics related to the science of creative thinking. Dr. Kim was so touched by the conference and the attendees, that she donated her entire speaking fee back to NESA.

Creative thinking first requires a creative climate, and this is often lacking or threatened in the cultures of some of the attendees’ countries. By understanding the threat, teachers can resist it, and they can try to provide a climate at school that allows opportunities for inspiration and warmth, challenge and failure, access to diverse resources, and time for independent thought, exploration, and expression. Whether in politics, the sciences, or the arts, creativity will solve the problems of the future. Students must be prepared with open minds to accurately find and define those problems, and then to seek out many, original, diverse possible solutions to find the best answers.

Many NESA schools already provide a creative climate, even amid the shrinking tolerance of creative thinking and creative attitudes in their host countries. NESA members all teach in English as the principal language and many of the students and teachers have lived in many countries, and they bring many cultures, traditions, and ideas together in tolerance and understanding. Conferences like the one attended by Dr. Kim are a part of the support network and resources provided to these schools as NESA members to hone teaching skills and student learning. Over 700 teachers and educators attended. Many attendees had also taught in many other parts of the world. Several had worked in Korea at one time or another, and spoke with Dr. Kim in Korean.

Dr. Kim’s research reveals that creativity often occurs when people are outside of their usual comfort zones, because diverse thoughts and observations can come from taking an unusual or unaccustomed perspective. At the conference, and in the workshop led by Dr. Kim, attendees were often seated beside participants from traditionally opposed countries. Dr. Kim tasked these diverse groups to work together to identify the principal underlying barrier to divergent thinking in their schools, and to find solutions to the problem. To encourage multiple-modality learning, the groups presented their conclusions in the form of a statement, a graphic depiction, a song, and a skit.

While the newspapers reminded the attendees about the intractable conflicts and elusive solutions awaiting them in their home nations, their experiences at the conference proved to them that people can set aside race, religion, gender, and other regional differences to work together with respect, to find common problems and solutions, and to forge connections and friendships in the process.
After NESA Keynote Speech.jpg

Dr. Kim's contact information is:
Dr. KH Kim
Associate Professor of Creativity & Innovation
301 Monticello Avenue
PO Box 8795, School of Education
The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23187
Photo by Stephen Salpukas/The College of William & Mary