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Rhode Island School of Design Announces “STEM to STEAM: Full Circle from Education to Economy” Expert Panel at SXSWedu

STEAM – adding Art and Design to the national imperative around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is gaining significant momentum as a pathway to economic competitiveness. How (and why) is art and design poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century? How can art and design methods be introduced into STEM curriculum, making science and discovery “visible” and relatable? What are some examples of 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? What are successful cases of technology being used in the classroom to enable the creative process?

Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda will return to Austin, Texas this March 4-7, 2013 to participate in the annual SXSWedu (pronounced South by Southwest E-D-U) conference, and will moderate the panel “STEM to STEAM: Full Circle from Education to Economy,” a discussion intended to show how art and design drive innovation by deepening the value of technological advances and enhancing the processes of scientific learning.

President Maeda will lead a diverse panel of nationally renowned experts who bring distinctive voices to STEAM, including: 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; and Ainissa Ramirez, Science Evangelist, Yale University.

The SXSWedu panel will stress the importance of arts integration: the STEAM acronym is a visual reminder of the initiative’s objective to encourage the inclusion of Art + Design throughout primary and secondary education, across a range of disciplines.

“21st 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 curriculum.”

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.”

Matt Goldman, co-founder of Blue Man Group and Blue School, will talk about Blue School’s approach of weighing creativity, innovation, self and social learning, and collaboration as heavily as all the academic subjects to be responsive to the whole child. “At Blue School, we absolutely believe that we can create the conditions for innovation and creativity to flourish, and this is done by giving our young inquirers the tools to navigate and integrate the skills of scientists and artists. Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math is essential for creating the innovation that is required for changing the course and trajectory or our world, to a sustainable and harmonious place.”

Ainissa Ramirez, Science Evangelist and associate professor of mechanical engineering at Yale University says “Creativity is a human need and we do it all the time. 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.”

Following on the success of last year’s panel moderated by President Maeda, which featured RI Department of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist; RISD Dean of Continuing Education Brian Smith; Exploratorium Curator Marina McDougall; and Director of Museum Education at the RISD Museum of Art Sarah Blythe Ganz, this year’s panel continues to support RISD’s broader STEM to STEAM initiative with a variety of perspectives.

Check out the newly re-launched site for information on STEAM, case studies on best practices for collaboration and integration, ways you can gain momentum for STEAM in your own region with legislators, and information on attending SXSWedu in March 2013. To register, visit

About RISD

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Recently ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools, approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. RISD is known for its phenomenal faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on, studio-based approach to learning – one in which critical thinking informs making works by hand. Required courses in the liberal arts provide an essential complement to studio work, enabling graduates to become critical and informed individuals eager to engage with the world. Through the accomplishments of its 26,000 alumni, the college champions the vital role artists and designers play in satisfying the global demand for innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum of Art help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit or

About SXSWedu

Now in its third year, the SXSWedu Conference and Festival has quickly emerged as a catalyst for change in education. Education stakeholders and practitioners of all backgrounds– including teachers, administrators, university professors, business and policy leaders – converge at SXSWedu to connect, collaborate, create and change how we teach and how we learn. Join education’s most energetic and innovative leaders at SXSWedu 2013, March 4-7, 2013 in Austin, Texas. For more details, visit

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