From STEM to STEAM
I’m a sucker for any event promising an interdisciplinary experience and an opportunity to dive into the unknown between silos. I was fortunate to attend, Make it Better, a recent symposium at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on art, design, and the future of healthcare. It delivered. I was reminded of the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials. You got your art in my science! No, You got your science in my art! Art and science, two great tastes that taste good together. It amazes me in today’s always on and connected world we still have to be nudged, or for many, blasted out of our silos to experience the magic of interdisciplinary thinking and doing. The timing couldn’t have been better for a participative conversation about combining art, design, and healthcare. There is growing recognition that our US health care system is unsustainable. The imperative is to transform from our current “sick care” system to a “well care” system. We need to go from an institution-centered approach to a human-centered approach. We need to go from tweaks to transformation. Art and design can be key enablers for transforming health care.John Maeda, RISD’s President, always makes me think about the importance of art and design in our lives and to the innovation process.
In his BIF-6 Collaborative Innovation Summit story‘ last September John asserted that unleashing the innovation potential of the 21st century will require adding an “A” for art to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) turning it into STEAM. Maeda suggests we need IDEA (intuition, design, emotion, and art) based thinking to make progress on the big system challenges we face including, education, health care, energy, and entrepreneurship. I agree with Maeda and have been thinking about the IDEA of going from STEM to STEAM since his talk. It wasn’t until I hung out at the Make It Better symposium that the real importance of moving to STEAM hit me.
It isn’t just about making sure art and design are included as part of the equation.