At the surface, science and the arts appear to be worlds apart, yet according to Dr. Teresa S. Unseld, that could not be further from the truth. Unseld, an Associate Professor of Art and Design Education at the University of Arts, believes that, “Science needs to find a place for the arts.”
Unseld’s focus involves a set of studies known by the acronym STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Unseld wants to broaden STEM to include the artistic realm. “The talk now is adding the A to STEM to turn it into STEAM… The A stands for Art,” she said.
Recently, teaching STEM has become a goal for educators as the United States has become immersed in the competitive global market. Many leaders, including President Obama, are making the push for more science, math, and technology to be taught in schools so that the US can remain on the forefront of innovation.
However, many educators and leaders believe that STEM by itself is not enough, and that there should be an addition to encourage innovation, creativity, and imagination. Unseld believes that the missing link lies in art. She said, “The arts set you to connect so that you’re not just in a cubicle, in a box.”
Unseld continued, explaining that art can lead to innovation and invention. She said, “We have to expand the toolbox of science and engineering.” According to Unseld, the iPod, while being a great piece of technology, is also an elegant piece of engineering.
Unseld believes that art will be particularly important in our future. “We have ended the information age and are going into the conceptual age,” she said.
“Visualization is tied to imagination.” said Unseld. She pointed out that people currently apply art to STEM even though art is not often included in schools.
Another argument for changing STEM to STEAM concerns right brain versus left brain, “If you use both sides of the brain you’re probably going to get a better investment.” said Unseld.
When speaking about federal funding for programs, Unseld said, “Art is conspicuously absent. We’re talking about putting it back in.” According to her, we should, “[Recognize] the arts as an integral part to science.”
Unseld concluded by saying, “I’d like to think we can heal the planet by what can come out of the sciences and the arts coming together.”