Inaugural Duke STEAM Forum Kicks Off in the Ruby

If you were in the Ruby on Sept 18, you caught a glimpse of the beginning of something big.

The inaugural Duke STEAM Forum was designed to give visibility and voice to those who are passionate about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) at Duke. The forum was put forward by the team behind an Intellectual Community Planning Grant devoted to bringing together the sciences, arts and humanities at Duke, funded by the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies. We lovingly call ourselves the Duke STEAM Team.

By providing space for collaborative brainstorming, highlighting speakers who lead incredible STEAM initiatives, and learning lessons from an expert who brings STEAM into his work and his classroom, the afternoon was full of energetic chatter revealing the value of STEAM, our goals, ideas to foster its growth, and knowledge of where we need to provide support to bring this all to fruition.

The first STEAM forum filled the Ruby lounge with about 50 attendees featuring participants from Duke Gardens, the Nasher, Duke Forest, OIT, the Co-lab, Duke Libraries, and so much more. There was also a mix of undergraduates, graduate and professional students, postdocs, faculty, and staff. This shows just how STEAM@Duke cuts across many dimensions of our learning, our service, and our scholarship at every level.

Highlights from the 2019 Duke STEAM Forum.

We kicked off the event with opening remarks from Jory Weintraub, the director of science communication for the initiative for Science & Society. He made the case for why STEAM is important and why we are poised to make strides with STEAM here at Duke. Then he turned over the reins to Ariana Eily, who facilitated the afternoon sessions. We dove into a brainstorm to get our ideas flowing for what we want to do with STEAM and what we need to do it—all recorded on the wall with sticky notes. This was followed by vignettes of STEAM initiatives taking place at Duke and more dialogue about existing projects, including The Art of a Scientist, The Enviro-Art Gallery, the SLIPPAGE Lab, the Calla Campaign, THE_OPER&, and HEAR at Duke.

In having this collection of STEAM-minded folks in one room for the first time, we wanted to give them as much time to interact and talk to each other as we could. Sharing ideas, resources, questions, and more to put some energy behind STEAM at Duke.

View the 2019 STEAM Forum Keynote.

To close, Vice Provost for the Arts Scott Lindroth delivered a wonderful address capturing the spirit of STEAM and its ability to change the world.

In bringing together the arts and the sciences, we learn so much more about the world and human experiences in it. We can paint a more complete, more compelling, and more authentic picture of our world.

The STEAM forum is just the first in a wave of STEAM-centric things coming from the Duke STEAM Team. We are conducting a survey to get a sense of our thoughts on STEAM, gathering a list of STEAM resources, compiling a report on STEAM at Duke which will be out soon, and developing a website to be home to STEAM all across Duke’s campus. Collectively, we’re a team of a postdoc, an MA student, an undergraduate who is working with the CAST program, and faculty from different departments. We look forward to seeing the way STEAM grows at Duke!