While STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has been a hot topic in educational circles for years, educators, employers and political leaders have come to understand that a too-narrow focus on the STEM disciplines can hinder a college graduate’s ability to think — and work — creatively. Innovation, after all, is the linchpin of a thriving economy and the cornerstone of the American brand.
A new vision for curriculum is at hand, as educational institutions from kindergarten through doctoral programs have begun offering more effective ways to integrate arts education with the STEM disciplines.
Earlier this year, Dean Richard Goodstein from the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and Dean Anand Gramopadhye from the College of Engineering and Science announced the formation of a Clemson STEAM Network that will serve as a think tank, clearinghouse and logistical support for Clemson STEAM initiatives. More than four dozen Clemson professors, staffers and students have enlisted to help, and the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education have joined the collaboration. Over the summer, at least two dozen P-12 educators and parents from the Upstate have expressed a desire to participate.
The self-described goals of the network are to:
• include and promote art and design into traditional STEM activities, • encourage integration of art and design into K-Ph.D. educational settings,
• enhance career preparation for students participating in STEAM activities and
• connect our students, faculty and ideas with the global community.
“The intersection of art and STEM has a long history,” said Gramopadhye. “The Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy, was so big and so important it helped start a whole new era of art and construction engineering. Doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti represent great works of art that revolutionized metalwork. Likewise, Taj Mahal is considered both an artistic splendor and a civil engineering jewel.”
Goodstein added that the arts help students develop empathy and creative thought. “The arts not only help individuals lead richer, more well-rounded lives but also give them a competitive advantage,” he said. “Good leaders understand that empathy and creativity are crucial to innovation.”
During the three-day Artisphere event, more than 75,000 people visited the big orange Clemson STEAM tent. Kids of all ages were making art in the name of science, or science in the name of the art, depending on your point of view. It proved to be a notable kickoff event for the fledgling network at one of the nation’s top-ranked arts festivals.