What is STEAM INC ?
STEAM thinking is a process which promotes collaboration between the Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Its direct relation, STEM thinking (prioritising Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, only), has typically been understood as a way of delivering the skills required for high-tech, high-value jobs, and so seen as critical to economic prosperity.
Increasingly, this position has been expanded to incorporate the benefits that ‘artistic’ practice can provide. In particular, approaches that favour clear application of creativity and imagination, in combination with more typically understood STEM skills such as numeracy and analysis, are considered to be routes to deeper insight and more transformative innovation.
Obviously, what constitutes creativity and imagination is a potentially contentious point, but an outlook that focuses on the areas of intersection between the arts and the sciences leads to certain, tangible benefits, including: techniques for collaborating across disciplines; the ability to consider varied perspectives; and the identification of points of common ground between seemingly unrelated areas of thought. The resulting competencies are combinatorial in nature and, in a Higher Educational setting, find expression in courses such as design engineering, digital arts and data visualisation.
'STEAM' in Higher Education
Whilst arguments for supporting STEM are well rehearsed, STEAM, is becoming more and more prevalent in the HE sector. This is not only as a way of ensuring that students acquire the multitrans-and inter-disciplinary skills required for the future jobs market, but also to increase intellectual curiosity and, through collaborative approaches, to prime them in developing solutions to multi aspect global challenges. Furthermore, an HE institution with STEAM at its centre, is well positioned to develop new and responsive curricula that move beyond the traditional segregation of faculties and schools found in most European universities.
A number of approaches to multi, trans and interdisciplinary learning currently exist, however to date, no comprehensive scheme has been developed to identify the specific effectiveness of Higher Education STEAM approaches. The STEAM INC project seeks to address this, and the rising importance of STEAM in Higher Education, by way of three objectives:
- Identify points of intersection across current European HE STEAM approaches and develop a collaborative definition of HE STEAM
- Produce methodologies for the implementation of STEAM thinking in HE education, policy and engagement
- Create an evaluation framework for measuring the effectiveness of STEAM processes in HEIs and HE partner organisations