The Rhode Island School of Design knows there is more to education than just science, technology, engineering and math. The Providence-based college has been striving to inject “art” into the acronym, and a new map launched Wednesday highlights thought leaders, both local and abroad, are supporting the cause.
RISD revealed the STEAM Map during an industry briefing held on Capitol Hill in collaboration with Congressional STEAM Caucus Co-chairs Suzanne Bonamici and Aaron Schock. The map is intended to help visualize STEAM activity worldwide, enabling advocates, practitioners and followers of the movement to connect with each other and show decision makers the impact and relevancy of art and design.
The college has been successful in spurring a national dialogue on the need to add art and design into the national STEM agenda. Critical thinking occurs across multiple disciplines, yet today’s educational model doesn’t reflect that.
Innovation and creativity — “essential qualities nurtured by an art and design education and highly valued by employers,” according to RISD — is what will bolster the country’s economic growth and foster competitiveness in the future.
The STEAM Map will be able to help chart that growth. Interested individuals and organizations are able to easily add themselves to the map, as well as share why STEAM matters to them. RISD is then able to facilitate connections through its online platform and further accelerate the movement.
RISD’s overarching STEM to STEAM program is comprised of a team of student research assistants who work in the school’s Office of Government Relations “to apply their firsthand knowledge of art and design education to exploring new avenues for STEM to STEAM.”
Speaking to the benefits of STEAM, Bonamici said in a statement:
To keep up with the evolving economy, we must expand our emphasis beyond math and science. Pairing the analytical nature of STEM with the creative potential of art or music will enable our students to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. A well-rounded education leads to a workforce of adaptive, creative thinkers who will help us compete in a global marketplace.
Schock lauded the arts, as well, stating:
It’s clear that the STEM disciplines will continue to be the engine of America’s innovation economy, but the jobs of the future will require far more than mere proficiency in these areas. STEAM harnesses the synergy between the arts and STEM to raise student achievement and produce graduates with the skills industry identifies as vital in new hires, including collaboration, trial and error, divergent thinking skills, and dynamic problem solving.
As their quotes prove: We need to stop focusing solely on STEM.