STEM vs. the Humanities?

With Good Reason

Courtesy of Flickr user Toban Black

Courtesy of Flickr user Toban Black

We have a way of talking about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields as the opposite of the humanities–but it’s hard to have one without the other.

Debbie Sterling of Goldieblox believes that combining reading and engineering is the best way to get young girls interested in the subject.  And if you’ve ever tried to put Ikea furniture together, you know how important it is that working engineers learn to communicate.

 Mohamed Gad-el-Hak (Virginia Commonwealth University) has designed a writing course specifically for engineering students. According to Daniel Becker, (University of Virginia) a focus on reading and writing makes better doctors, too.  He’s a doctor and a writer, as well as mentor to Nitin Ahuja (University of Virginia) and Laura Kolbe (University of Virginia).

Plus, one experimental school in New York City has almost completely merged their STEM and humanities curriculum. Co-director, Arana Shapiro (Quest to Learn), explains how courses designed around real challenges instead of specific subjects can be more effective.

And: It’s almost impossible to imagine modern life without the zipper.  Yet for thirty years after its invention, it was so mechanically awkward that it had no real advantage over hooks and buttons.  Robert Friedel and Alexander Horniman – both with the Batten Institute at UVA’s Darden Graduate School of Business– say the zipper is a wonderful example of technology looking for meaning.

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