Across higher education and in industry, the familiar acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is morphing into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics).
Why add art to the mix?
Because innovation and creativity are vitally important to our economy, and artists and designers are innovators and creators. They ask questions. They come up with unusual solutions to problems. They take risks.
Artists and designers are skilled at critical making as well as critical thinking – and that gives them common ground with engineers and chemists.
The STEAM initiative has its roots in a cooperative effort by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts to explore how they could better support innovation together. Both agencies have called for a renewed emphasis on the role of creative fields in scientific experimentation and the arts as a vehicle for disseminating and debating scientific knowledge.
At a recent conference on transforming STEM to STEAM, Shirley Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science asked, “Why choose just one? What was this artificial bifurcation [between art and science] and how can we reconnect it?”
Research universities are an essential forum for connecting art and science, in ways that are both structured and unstructured. STEAM happens every day on the UConn campus when:
* an engineering student takes a ceramics class or a painting student double-majors in physics
* sculptors and materials scientists on the faculty meet to discuss how they use computer-controlled routers
* a graduate student in studio art and a mathematics professor together design a microprocessor to support interactive art
* a visiting artist creates a multimedia work about the nature of time with collaborators from physics
To find out more about STEAM:
A new academic journal, STEAM, includes scholarly articles as well as reports from the field.
The President of RISD, John Maeda, recently wrote an opinion piece forWired magazine arguing for the value of the STEAM concept.