Conference Panel to Discuss How Art and Design Thinking Drive Innovation

SXSW-EDUA panel discussion at the 2013 SXSWedu (South by Southwest E-D-U) Conference will explore how art and design can drive innovation by deepening the value of technological advances and enhancing the processes of scientific learning. The session, entitled “STEM to STEAM: Full Circle from Education to Economy,” will be moderated by Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda. The panel will explain why STEAM (adding the Arts to the national imperative around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is gaining significant momentum as a pathway to economic competitiveness. They will talk about:

  • How (and why) art and design is poised to transform our economy in the 21st century, just as science and technology did in the last century
  • How art and design methods can be introduced into STEM curriculums, making science and discovery “visible” and relatable
  • Programs that are successfully implementing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) practices for developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to build for 21st century careers.
  • Examples of how technology is being used in the classroom to enable the creative process

Panelists will include:

  • Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Education and Research, Sesame Workshop;
  • Jon Perera, Vice President, Adobe Education;
  • Matt Goldman, Co-founder, Blue Man Group and Blue School;
  • Ainissa Ramirez, Science Evangelist, Yale University.

The panelists will stress the importance of arts integration, noting that the STEAM acronym provides a visual reminder to include the Arts in a range of disciplines throughout primary and secondary education.

“Twenty-first Century innovation depends on the problem solving, risk-taking and iteration that is natural to the way artists and designers think,” said RISD President John Maeda. “Creative thinking is required to solve the complex challenges of the day, and to communicate, energize, and engage students of all ages in this learning. Sustaining arts education in its own right remains critically important. But equally important is taking a page from schools that have been successful at integrating the arts into STEM curriculums.”

Adobe Vice President of Worldwide Education Marketing Jon Perera agrees, positing that “STEAM plays a critical role in positively shaping the future of education. Tech tools are not means to themselves; their value is directly tied to what they can and should enable – creativity and innovation.”

Sesame Workshop’s Senior Vice President of Education & Research Rosemarie Truglio, Ph.D. thinks it’s never too early to start: “As STEM topics continue to be a critical component of early childhood education, it is important to allow children to explore these concepts through various channels, especially the arts. Incorporating the arts into our STEM curriculum was an exciting and natural addition, as Sesame Street has always used music, visual and performing arts as tools to educate and entertain children.”

“The issues of the future need creative solutions that teaching by memorization will not solve. Schools must create a space for creativity so that students can develop this muscle.” said Ainissa Ramirez, science evangelist and associate professor of mechanical engineering at Yale University.

STEAM is a movement championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In addition to encouraging the integration of art and design thinking into science, technology, engineering, and math research and K-12 education, the STEAM movement wants to influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation.




Rhode Island School of Design