Performing arts professor Cara Rawlings has used clown techniques to coach an actor in what iconic role? Was it Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Mute in The Fantasticks, or Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

None of the above — it was the HokieBird in Lane Stadium.

That detail is one of many revealing the ingenuity of Virginia Tech faculty members in nurturing the creativity and innovation of their students. Their stories are captured in Illumination, a newly released magazine of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“Education is one of the most powerful forces in the world because what we learn and know changes not just individual lives, but whole communities,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the college. “True education requires courage and creativity. We’re always telling a range of audiences about the power of the liberal arts and human sciences to enrich lives and careers. With this magazine, we have an opportunity to show — through the individual stories of our faculty, students, and graduates — the truth of those words.”

The premiere issue’s special report focuses on creativity and innovation, topics that naturally thread through the entire publication. The magazine features philosophers revolutionizing the way music is made and science is conducted, fashion designers undertaking diplomatic missions, and theatre arts professionals recreating the magical world of Hogwarts.

Among the highlights of the magazine is an exploration of the history of innovation and its implications for today’s creative economy. “Innovation — and its promise of cutting-edge technology and economic prosperity — is more than a buzzword,” writes the author, Matthew Wisnioski, an associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society. “It has become the global economy’s imperative.”

Another faculty member, Anthony Peguero, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, discusses the lingering, often decades-long effects of school bullying. “There are proven tactics that bystanders can use to interrupt and even stop bullying situations,” said Peguero, who shares those tactics with the Cartoon Network in his role as an advisor on the network’s anti-bullying program.

The college’s alumni are well represented, including Tom Bagamane, a communication and political science graduate who founded The Giving Spirit, one of the largest volunteer-only organizations in the nation; political science alumna Kristi Castlin, a hurdler who earned a bronze medal in a recent history-making Olympic feat; and another communication graduate, Liz Hart, an impresaria of events ranging from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to the Democratic National Convention.

A nationally award-winning essay by Sarah Benson — a first-year student from Lorton, Virginia, who is majoring in literature and language — rounds out the feature section.

The online edition of the magazine offers a quiz that, depending on whether you take it before or after reading the issue, serves as a preview of content or a test of memory. Either way, you will receive a HokieBird-inspired score at the end.

Written by Paula Byron