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Dean Nadarajan and Laurie Baefsky on Integration of Humanities and Arts into STEMM Fields


Guna Nadarajan, dean of the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, and Laurie Baefsky, executive director of Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), recently served on a 22-person expert committee organized by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine tasked with researching the effect of integrating the humanities and arts into STEMM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) in higher education. 

Released on Monday, May 7, the consensus report demonstrates limited but promising evidence that a variety of positive learning outcomes are associated with some integrative approaches –- including improved written and oral communication skills, content mastery, problem solving, teamwork skills, ethical decision-making, empathy, and the ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings. Surveys show that these skills are valued both by employers and by higher education institutions. The report urges the further development and evaluation of integrative approaches, especially in response to a rising trend in higher education towards increasingly specialized, discipline-specific degrees. 

The report also includes a compendium of more than 200 integrated programs and courses at universities and colleges across the U.S., including ArtsEngine and other units at the University of Michigan.

Dean Guna Nadarajan states: This report represents two years of hard work by a dedicated committee and paves the way towards informed conversation around ways to integrate the arts and humanities into STEMM fields. The fact that the Stamps School of Art & Design has a program that is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the report is reassuring as we strive to provide the strongest curricular foundation possible for our students.”

The study was sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Scientists and Engineers for the Future Fund of the National Academies’ Presidents’ Committee. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. 

For more information, see the full press release or watch a video of the report announcement.