STEAM is Gathering Steam

More people are discovering that George W. Bush signed into law a bill called "The America Competes Act", also known as the STEM initiative for Science Technology Engineering and Math.

And they're saying -- as I did last October -- why just math and science?

Why not the arts, too?

Out of New York, a boutique-consulting firm called the Learning Worlds Institute with the support of the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., has launched "The Art of Science Learning: Shaping the 21st-Century Workforce."

The initiative will hold three conferences:

  • April 6-7: Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

  • May 16-17: Chicago, at the Illinois Institute of Technology
  • June 14-15: San Diego, at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego (in collaboration with the San Diego Science Alliance).
  • Following these events, the Institute hopes to build awareness and maybe even some kind of alliance for sharing the interest and, perhaps, preparing a new agenda for STEAM.

    The truth is that the arts and art infusion matters a great deal if America is to succeed, let alone survive, in the new global economy. We need a huge infusion of capital and a change in attitude about art, music, math and science if we are to lay the foundation for a creative and innovative workforce.

    Recently the Conference Board -- an international nonprofit business research organization -- released "Ready to Work", a study which clearly agrees that "U.S. employers rate creativity and innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years, and rank it among the top challenges facing CEOs." Confirming their assessment, IBM also reported recently "creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking."

    Most analysts studying the new global economy agree that the growing "creative and innovative" economy represents America's path to a brighter economic future. Whether we can all be a Picasso or Einstein is another matter. By focusing on a curriculum that gives young people the new thinking skills they need, we can help ensue our nation's and our childrens success in the new economy.

    We need STEAM not just STEM.