American industry was built on innovation. Yet, innovation is tightly tied to science, technology, engineering and math, the combination of subjects commonly referred to as STEM. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has been working to expand the nation’s thinking by approaching educators and the legislature with evidence that art and design are “poised to transform our economy in the 21st century, just as science and technology did in the last century.”[i] So, several years ago, the design school began championing the STEAM movement. According to the RISD STEM to STEAM website, “the goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer.”[ii]
“STEAM began to gain traction in industry and government circles with the introduction of House Resolution 319, sponsored by Jim Langevin (D-RI), ‘expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into federal programs that target Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.’ In 2013, RISD helped to launch the Congressional STEAM Caucus, and in 2016, Caucus Co-Chair Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) successfully introduced an amendment to the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now ESSA), laying the foundation for integrating K-12 arts and STEM education:‘(vi) integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM programs to increase participation in STEM, improve attainment of STEM-related skills and promote well-rounded education.’”
This type of movement in legislation will go a long way in helping RISD’s work toward the integration of art and design in K-20 education with the hope of driving innovation in the 21st century.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rhode Island School of Design