John M. Eger – Huffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: February 24, 2011 12:40 PM

It really doesn’t matter what you call it as long as long as the arts and the sciences are not seen as separate things when we talk about reinventing the curriculum.

At the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, located at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts, ARTStem means, “teaching and learning at the intersection of the arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines.”

Since 1992 the Institute has looked for “collaborations with other organizations that have potential for significant impact.” And thus the Institute reaches out to the world because the arts are essential ingredients to people everywhere — their schools, churches, and workplaces. Why? Because the arts are part of the political, social, and economic fabric of our lives.

Not surprisingly, the Institute has made a “commitment to leveraging resources in support of K-12 public education…while exploring new directions for learning in and through the arts. For 2010-2011, the public school partner institution is R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem”.

According to Mike Wakeford, who teaches History and Humanities in the School’s Undergraduate Academic Program, ARTStem began with a simple question: “What would happen if we gathered together a group of faculty…without regard for ‘disciplines’ or subject specialties, (and) challenged ourselves to forge student-centered collaborations?

Recently the Institute announced a series of Faculty awards for creating projects that fostered the art/science concept. “This current slate of Faculty Project awards,” Wakeford said, “reminds us that beneath the labels like ‘arts education’ or the ‘STEM-disciplines’, we pursue the common goal of equipping our students with the skills, curiosity, and courage to produce new knowledge, to ask questions and tell stories in ways that help humans make sense of the world, and to author the worlds of tomorrow.”

The awards cover a wide spectrum:

  1. “Let’s make Some Noise”: An Installation/Performance/Publication Project, a public installation in which students and community members will explore convergences of art and technology.
  2. Judo as a Science and an Art, a supplement to courses in physics and stage combat by exploring judo as an art, science, sport, and means of self-defense.
  3. Engineering Aesthetics will explore the aesthetics of regulation within the considerations of physics in the creation of architectural structures.
  4. The Meaning of Proof: Using a Play about Math to Blend Cultures of Performance & Inquiry will sponsor ARTStem-dedicated performances of student-directed production of Proof (2001).
  5. Shadow on the Sun, a musical composition for wind ensemble that confronts certain paradoxes in solar phenomena.
  6. The Artistic Expression of Scientific Concepts, a collaborative project between an instructor of anatomy and movement and faculty from the School of Dance.
  7. The Consilience Project: a project inspired unifying theory of knowledge, which will introduce students in the Foundations of Western Thought, to easel painting as a medium of expression and conceptual integration.
  8. Science Giants, a collaboration of elementary teachers and students, screenwriters, puppeteers, and animators that will develop a 30-minute “television” program to explore the presence of science in our daily lives with a focus on electricity and magnetism,
  9. Food Presentation as an Art and a Science, a project elucidating the connection between the science of cooking and the art of food presentation.
  10. The Art and Science of Solar Cells is a project that explores the science of solar cell technology and considers the possible role of art in the use and public awareness of solar energy.
  11. Staging Science: a three-day residency featuring a reading of Ziegler’s play, Photograph 51.

The interdisciplinary experience the kid’s get should translate within the University’s as well, in effect changing the curriculum.

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