MONTHLY EMAIL NEWSLETTER: JULY 2011
Escape from the STEM cell
Last month, as the Dutch government expelled trouble-making artists from the state funding system, UK and US policymakers demanded a stronger focus by education on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics the STEM subjects. They claim a STEM workforce "determines a nation's ability to sustain itself."
No it does not. A too-sharp focus on STEM creates an innovation policy that is not fit for purpose. We need to diversify, not reduce, our ways of knowing and acting in the world. We need to emphasize the social dimension of innovation, not just technology. And we need to master systems thinking more than silo thinking. Experimental art and design can help us do all of the above not as an alternative to science, but as its enrichment.
True innovators decline to remain locked in the STEM cell as this month's stories show. They include craft brewers who are also into urban renewal; geeks who are also into gardening; and a blacksmith who's designed a high-tech permaculture greenhouse. These guys, who use science and art in a whole systems context, are where the future lies.
Speaking of artful science, I'll be in Sweden at the new FuturePerfect Festival, 28-31 July. It's billed as "an adventure in living well" and we'll discuss these issues there.
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