DOI: 10.18536/bcce.2018.

Jump to: Business Creativity and the Creative Economy | Volume 4

Who Funds the Future? Federal Funding Support for Creativity and 21st Century Skills

Ahmed M. Abdulla
Arabian Gulf University

Mark A. Runco
American Institute of Behavioral Research & Technology

Abdulla, A. M., & Runco, M. A. (2018). Who Funds the Future? Federal Funding Support for Creativity and 21st Century Skills. Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 4, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.18536/bcce.2018.


The creative economy depends on various kinds of investments. Governments of all levels need to invest in education, for example, so talents will be supported and expressed. Grants for research represent another important kind of investment. Recent theory suggests refocusing these sorts of investments on skills that have been identified as most useful in the 21st century (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication). Are appropriate investments being made? Are grants being awarded to support research on 21st century skills? The purpose of the present study was to investigate the extent to which the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Institute for Education Sciences (IES) funded (and thereby invested in) 21st century research projects during 2005-2016. Results provide evidence that NSF has funded numerous projects involving collaboration and critical thinking, with IES funding critical thinking and communication projects most often. Across both agencies, very few funded projects focused on creativity. This implies that not enough is being invested in creativity, which is problematic given the role of creativity in innovation.