Gerald group 2

Following his thesis defense, Gerald (third from left), thanks thesis committee member Tony Yue, his thesis advisor Dr. DeNel Rehberg Sedo, and thesis committee member Dr. Alla Kushniryk for their guidance through the process.

It’s a long way from Aachen, Germany to the Don MacNeil boardroom at the Mount. But four short years after Gerald Bartels made his move to Canada, this is where he found himself, presenting the first ever thesis defense for the Master of Arts in Public Relations.

While the first Master of Public Relations class graduated last fall, October 2010 will mark the first graduating class of the MA (PR), a topic close to Gerald’s heart. With his thesis focusing on the creative process, his interests are firmly rooted in how the communications role within small groups facilitates and enhances creativity.  

A kaleidoscope is an ever changing piece of art, with colours maneuvering in fascinating patterns as an outward influence forces the image to constantly evolve. This is the basis of Gerald’s thesis: a creative group works as a kaleidoscope does. Some factors in the creative process are unchanging, such as the people involved and the objectives. Only the ideas are malleable.

Gerald chose to do his research through an ethnographic study: “You have to immerse yourself,” he says. “You cannot set up a creative sphere in a laboratory.”

This “Creative Sphere” Gerald mentions is the title he has given to the environment in which ideas are generated. A creative sphere could exist anywhere, from an organization, to a Jazz Trio. Whatever the situation, Gerald maintains that the creative process is essentially the same: people generate ideas, and through the process of communication and co-ordination, and with the influence of the environment, the sphere takes the idea and transforms it into a workable plan of action.

Gerald’s decision to formulate his thesis on this topic stems from an invested interest in the way people communicate. In addition to having a Master of Laws from University of Münster in Germany, Gerald is also an accomplished musician, husband and father. With all of these different hats, he has learned quickly to become a communicator in a variety of functions and languages. Studying the evolution of creativity— a concept he is well familiar with— seems like a natural step.

As part of the first MA (PR) graduating class, Gerald is excited to move onto the next stage in his career. In the immediate future, he hopes to work in consulting before he embarks on his PhD to further his knowledge of communications. The Mount is proud to have been a part of his globe-spanning journey, and is excited to help him share his fascinating research with a broader audience. Of the reach and scope of the MA (PR) program, you can find no better example than Gerald Bartels. From Germany to Nova Scotia, he has made waves everywhere he’s gone, and will continue to do so long after he’s graduated from the Mount.