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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Art of Science Learning: Shaping the 21st-Century Workforce

The Art of Science Learning consists of three regional conferences (Spring 2011) with follow-up activities designed to convene a "community of interest and practice" around the use of arts-based learning in science education, as a way to advance scientific literacy in the general population and strengthen STEM skill development in the current and future American workforce.

The conferences are intended to engage and bring together diverse audiences including:
• science educators working in formal and informal settings
• teaching artists and arts teachers in all disciplines
• corporate leaders and policymakers interested in the impact of STEM skill development on the quality and competitiveness of the 21st Century American workforce
• scientists, mathematicians, engineers and artists pursuing interdisciplinary arts/science integration
• researchers interested in investigating the effectiveness of arts-based approaches to science education

Each conference lasts 1.5 days and involve roughly 250 participants. Separate tracks will focus on the three key areas of educational practice, research and workforce development, and the conferences will feature interactive and arts-based plenary activities by some of the world's leading practitioners of arts-based learning, to give participants first hand experience with ways in which artistic skills, processes and experiences can foster creative thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Conference follow-ups that are part of this project will include:

• A workforce development report with actionable policy recommendations on the use of arts-based learning to foster the development of key skills required for a competitive 21st-Century STEM workforce, such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication across cultures, etc.

• A research agenda outlining strategies to document and assess the impact of arts-based learning on scientific literacy and STEM skill development, and proposing specific studies to explore the link between artistic engagement and innovation in science and technology.

• A set of arts-based STEM development resources for formal and informal science educators, including educational best practices and case studies, and databases of arts resources and arts-based learning tools.

The first Art of Science Learning conference took place in Washington on April 6-7 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Additional conferences will be held later this spring in Chicago and San Diego as follows:

May 16-17, 2011
Illinois Institute of Technology

San Diego
June 14-15
California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2) at UCSD

This project (the conferences, their follow-ups, and the NSF grant) is being administered by the Learning Worlds Institute (, with Harvey Seifter as project director and principal investigator; Liz Dreyer, LWI's Executive Director as conference producer, and Dr. David Green as project and content development manager. The Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) has been retained for participant evaluation.

In each city local partners (universities, research centers, arts institutions, etc.) are helping in many ways, from hosting and offering logistical support, to outreach, marketing and content development.

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