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STEAM Map Debuts on Capitol Hill

05/12/2014

Interim President Rosanne Somerson speaks with RISD parent and US DOT staff member Yvette Rivera at the Congressional briefing.

Representatives from RISD returned to Capitol Hill this week to co-host an industry briefing in collaboration with US Congressional leaders Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Aaron Schock (R-IL), co-chairs of the House STEAM Caucus. As part of the May 7 briefing, RISD launched an innovative new mapping tool to enable advocates, practitioners and followers of the STEAM movement to share best practices and show decision makers the intrinsic value of art and design to furthering social, cultural, educational, economic and global interests.

Championed by RISD, STEAM calls for adding art and design to the national STEM agenda (STEM + A = STEAM) to develop a comprehensive educational model that will better prepare future generations to compete in the 21st century innovation economy. RISD’s advocacy of STEAM is spurring a growing conversation about how innovation and creativity – essential qualities nurtured by an art and design education and highly valued by employers – are what the US urgently needs to foster economic growth and competitiveness in the years ahead.

With the launch of the global STEAM Map, individuals and organizations involved in the movement can easily add information about themselves to the online tool as a means of sharing their ideas, activities and successes in this arena, connecting with others and showing the growing level of support for STEAM worldwide.

“RISD is proud of the continued momentum and growth of our STEAM initiative, which has developed into a broad national conversation on educational innovation and global competitiveness,” noted interim President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID at the briefing. Those involved in the movement agree that the US needs “an educational system that prepares students to manage change and uncertainty, and to thrive in ever-changing conditions. To meet the needs of industry and ensure that this country leads in knowledge creation and innovation, we need the kind of education that encourages fresh thinking, bold ideas and the ability to communicate and collaborate across disciplines.”

Three students who work with RISD’s Office of Government Relations introduced the STEAM Map at the briefing, which focused on creativity in the workforce and the problem-solving and critical thinking skills required for success in a changing global economy. Somerson welcomed representatives from Intel, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, each of whom spoke briefly. “We are all in” on the STEAM movement, noted Carlos Contreras, US education director at Intel. “If you ignite passion and interest in kids, it never ceases to amaze when you see what you get. The ‘A’ does that.” Hayden Land, vice president of research and technology at Lockheed Martin, added that “STEAM is critical to our global competitiveness,” while Deepa Gupta, director of educational initiatives and strategies at Boeing, confirmed that “success is realized when people with different views, insights and perspectives are brought together to solve problems.”

 RISD last co-hosted a Capitol Hill briefing when the Congressional STEAM Caucus launched in February 2013. The bipartisan caucus is dedicated to furthering the incorporation of art and design into STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). In addition to Bonamici and Schock, the Caucus includes Rhode Island Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), along with elected officials from 25 states, plus Guam and Washington, DC.

“The more I talk to people across my district, the more I hear about the importance of innovation and creativity,” Bonamici noted at the briefing. “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.”

Congressman Schock agrees. “Creative minds are key to our world and our economy,” he said at the briefing. “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.”

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tags: governmental, local/regional, collaborations, technology, digital, innovation, local/global, partnerships + collaborations, public engagement, research, social responsibility, STEAM

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The façade of the Chace Center, a new multipurpose hub that opened
in 2008, offers an interesting contrast to the historic campus
buildings that surround it.