Higher education has not yet agreed on a definition of what the integration of the arts, humanities, and science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) fields is and what it is not. As a result, many questions continue to surround integration. Is the use of poetry or song assignments in a science course integrative if literature or music theory faculty are not involved? What makes a course with equal parts sculpture and engineering more or less integrative than a course focused on engineering design? Music theory courses may cover the mathematics found in music, but does that make them integrative? When an educator claims an educational experience is integrative, does that mean it actually is?
Where in the higher education curricula should integrative approaches be adopted or experimented with? In general education? In the major? In co-curricular activities?
The committee found that there are many diverse approaches to integration. Different disciplines are integrated at different levels of depth and for different reasons. Different courses and programs use different pedagogical approaches and appear in different aspects of the curriculum. This chapter explores some of this diversity and concludes that there is no single goal of an integrative approach, but rather many different goals. The many and varied goals of integration have implications for how the impact of integration on students should be evaluated by institutions.
Below we offer definitions of the disciplines (arts, humanities, science, engineering, and medicine) that have been developed by others over the course of time and describe the characteristics of integration. We also describe forms of integration in the curriculum, broken into three categories:
in-course, within-curriculum, and co-curricular. We describe the differences between “interdisciplinary” integration, “multidisciplinary” integration, and “transdisciplinary” integration and acknowledge that “integration” is a term used in higher education research that may or may not refer specifically to the integration of the humanities, arts, and STEMM fields. Rather, “integration” in the context of the higher education scholarship may refer broadly to educational experiences that help students integrate or bring together ideas.
Integration of teaching and learning in higher education inevitably takes place within the context of disciplinary pedagogies, content, and epistemologies. Disciplines have their own ways of looking at the world, of making meaning and discovering truth. But these approaches are pragmatic, meant to arrive at certain human ends. The disciplines delimit their objects of study; their theoretical approaches, projects, and traditions; the forms of evidence, interpretation, and explanation that are appropriate to them; and the professional and institutional structures through which these parameters are articulated, regulated, taught, and, in effect, enforced. The disciplines are self-reinforcing, and disciplinary specialization and fragmentation have intensified as the disciplines have strengthened and solidified.
As historians of higher education and of integrative learning have long observed, the disciplines have their strengths, but they were always meant to be engines of human invention and discovery rather than cubicles to constrain academic endeavors (Klein, 2010). To return to Einstein’s analogy (see Chapter 1) that all disciplines of human knowledge are “branches from the same tree,” the vitality of the whole depends on the strength of the foundation. The trunk of the tree represents the core from which disciplines draw in higher education—the centralizing force that directs students through a course of academic study. The branches—where Einstein located religion, arts, and sciences—can be seen both as the disciplines and as potential locations for integration. Branches grow away from the trunk, yet they remain integrally connected to the core strengths of the whole; they intersect and tangle in new ways as they grow. While the disciplines are powerful, they are not, and need not be, treated as fixed.
In his work on Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking (1995), Stephen J. Kline explains the need to understand the connection between disciplines and the intellectual terrain as a whole:
For at least a century, we have acted as if the uncollected major fragments of our knowledge, which we call disciplines, could by themselves give understanding of the emergent ideas that come from putting the concepts
and results together. It is much as if we tried to understand and teach the geography of the 48 contiguous states of the United States by handing out maps of the 48 states, but never took the trouble to assemble a map of the country.
It is important to note that the purpose of this report is not to prescribe that institutions move away from disciplinary studies or, in the other extreme, to integrate all human knowledge within the educational experience of an individual student—that would be impossible—but rather to offer new insight into the impact of an approach to education that seeks to help students understand how the knowledge they have accumulated is connected.
Every field of study has its own epistemology that is learned through disciplinary preparation. The process of disciplinary education is characterized by certain conceptual gateways that are preconditions to any deep disciplinary understanding. As Meyer and Land (2003, p. 1) describe these conceptual understandings:
A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view. This transformation may be sudden or it may be protracted over a considerable period of time, with the transition to understanding proving troublesome. Such a transformed view or landscape may represent how people “think” in a particular discipline, or how they perceive, apprehend, or experience particular phenomena within that discipline (or more generally).
These threshold concepts point to the kinds of problems that each discipline is trying to solve or the contributions it is aimed at making to human understanding. However, these concepts tend to differ by disciplinary category and evolve over time as the “branches” of the disciplines further bifurcate or—in the case of established integrative discipline—intersect. Some integrative disciplines that are now relatively mature, such as Science, Technology, and Society; Gender Studies; Bioethics; and Computer–Human Interaction, historically have arisen at the intersections of existing fields. These new disciplines represent the potential for academic innovation through integration.
According to definitions adopted by the federal government, to study within the humanities, students focus on disciplines such as
language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism, and theory of the arts; those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life. (20 U.S.C. 952 (a))
A traditional liberal arts education included these humanistic disciplines as well as training in politics and abstract mathematics (Hirt, 2006; Lucas, 1994; Roche, 2013). Though classifications differ, the qualitatively oriented social sciences tend to be classified with the humanities.
The humanities teach close reading practices as an essential tool, an appreciation for context across time and space, qualitative analysis of social structures and relationships, the importance of perspective, the capacity for empathic understanding, analysis of the structure of an argument (or of the analysis itself), and study of phenomenology in the human world.
The domain of the fine and performing arts
includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television, radio, film, video, tape and sound recording, the arts related to the presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of such major art forms, all those traditional arts practiced by the diverse peoples of this country, and the study and application of the arts to the human environment. (20 U.S.C. 952 (b))
The arts teach creative means of expression, understanding of different perspectives, an awareness of knowledge and emotions throughout the human experience, and the shaping and sharing of perceptions through artistic creation and practices in the expressive world. An art student’s training in the methods and tools of a creative platform is complemented with studies in written and visual semiotics; critical and cultural theories and philosophies; historical antecedents that shape contemporary forms of
cultural expression; and reflection-in-action through deep observation and constructive feedback.
The arts include not only all of these artifacts, intangible, tangible, and performative, but also the effect they have on people who participate and observe a given artistic expression. This impact has the capacity to build empathy and create new meaning for individuals in fields not limited to those traditionally associated with the arts, such as the social sciences.
The sciences include specialized fields covering the physical and mathematical sciences (i.e., chemistry, physics, and mathematics), the life sciences (e.g., cell biology, ecology, and genetics), the geosciences, computer science, and the quantitative social sciences (e.g., anthropology and sociology) (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2006).
The sciences teach “the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process” (National Academy of Sciences, 2008). According to the UK Science Council, scientific methodology includes objective observation, evidence, experimentation, induction, repetition, critical analysis, verification, and testing (Science Council, 2017). The quantitatively oriented social sciences are generally included within the sciences. For example, the National Science Foundation, the federal agency whose stated mission is “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; [and] to secure the national defense,”1 includes the social and behavioral sciences among its divisions and in its funding priorities.
Engineering is the study and practice of designing artifacts and processes under the constraints of “the laws of nature or science” and constraints such as “time, money, available materials, ergonomics, environmental regulations, manufacturability, [and] reparability” (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009, p. 17). It includes specialized engineering fields that focus on specific aspects of technology or the natural world, such as electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil, environmental, computer, biomedical, aerospace, and systems engineering.
Engineering teaches how to develop plans and directions for constructing artifacts and processes, such as computer chips, bridges, and drug
manufacturing processes (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009). This is taught using design as a problem-solving approach that can “integrate various skills and types of thinking—analytical and synthetic things; detailed understanding and holistic understanding; planning and building; and implicit, procedural knowledge and explicit, declarative knowledge” (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009, p. 37). The engineering design process is “generally iterative; thus each new version of the design is tested and then modified based on what has been learned up to that point” (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009, p. 38). Engineering fields teach how to identify a need and design an efficient, functional, durable, sustainable, useful process or product that will meet that need.
Notably, the attributes of communication, teamwork, and ethical decision making (as well as the even broader attributes of critical thinking, applying knowledge in real-world settings, and lifelong learning) are increasingly considered core to the engineering disciplines, along with a greater acknowledgment of the responsibility of engineering to respond to human needs (e.g., The Engineering Grand Challenges,2National Academy of Engineering, 2008). This sea change dates roughly to the NAE’s Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century report (2004), which boldly articulated attributes of a twenty-first-century engineer, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) “Engineering Criteria 2000,” whose criteria significantly broadened the expectations for an engineering education. In response, large numbers of engineering programs have embedded teamwork experiences, communication, and ethics education into core engineering courses. In many instances, these new engineering programs have adopted an integrative model to achieve these learning outcomes.
Medicine is the science or practice involved in “the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement, or treatment of physical and mental illness,” and it includes the “knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures” (World Health Organization, n.d.). Medical fields aim to teach modern medical professionals five core competencies (Institute of Medicine, 2003, p. 45):
- To provide patient-centered care (identify, respect, and care about patients’ values, preferences, and needs; listen to, communicate with,
inform, and educate patients; share decision making and management with the patient; and advocate)
- To work in interdisciplinary teams to cooperate, collaborate, communicate, and integrate care
- To employ evidence-based practices by knowing where and how to find the best possible sources of evidence, formulating clear clinical questions, search for the relevant answers, and determine when and how to integrate these new findings into practice (evidence can include that which can be quantified, such as data from randomized controlled trials, laboratory experiments, clinical trials, epidemiological research, and outcomes research; evidence based on qualitative research; and evidence derived from the practice knowledge of experts, including inductive reasoning)
- To apply quality improvement by understanding and measuring quality of care in terms of structure, process, and outcomes; assessing current practices and comparing them to relevant better practices; designing and testing interventions; identifying errors and hazards in care; improving one’s own performance
- To utilize informatics, such as using electronic data, communicating electronically, and understanding security protections
Medical fields teach how to analyze, conduct research on mechanics of the human body, examine relationships between bodies and environments, and make connections between disease and wellness.
These definitions highlight the unique aspects of each discipline and illustrate how the different disciplines consider and make use of different forms of evidence. Yet these definitions also demonstrate that the disciplines share the root purpose of creating knowledge for the betterment of humanity.
Integration can take multiple forms and can range from a relatively superficial intersection of disciplines to a deep integration of disciplinary knowledge. Often this range is characterized by the terms “multidisciplinary,” “interdisciplinary,” and “transdisciplinary” (Begg and Vaughan, 2011).
Multidisciplinary methods, typically considered the least integrative of the three, have been defined in several ways, yet converge on the idea that multidisciplinarity involves the process by which investigators from more than one discipline work from their disciplinary-specific bases to solve a common problem, either at the same time (Begg and Vaughan, 2011) or by sequentially applying ideas from multiple disciplines to the focal problem
(Hall et al., 2012). Multidisciplinarity, framed in this way, has been criticized as a temporary and often weak means of solving problems because of the superficial nature of that integration (Borrego and Newswander, 2010).
Through interdisciplinary approaches, in contrast, scholars work jointly from their disciplinary perspectives to address a common problem (Begg and Vaughan, 2011; Begg et al., 2015). The use of interdisciplinary methods requires team members to integrate their disciplinary perspectives—including concepts, theories, and methods—in order to solve the complex problem at hand (Hall et al., 2012).
Although interdisciplinary approaches are more integrated than multidisciplinary approaches, transdisciplinary research strategies require “not only the integration of discipline-specific approaches, but also the extension of these approaches to generate fundamentally new conceptual frameworks, hypotheses, theories, models, and methodological applications that transcend their disciplinary origins, with the aim of accelerating innovation and advances in scientific knowledge” (Hall et al., 2012, p. 416).
As we have discovered in our review of integrative practices (and as will be apparent in Chapters 6 and 7), integration between STEMM fields, the humanities, and the arts can take many forms. Integration can be relatively brief in duration (e.g., a single assignment or unit within a course) or longer (e.g., a complete integrative course or a series of courses or related educational experiences). A wide variety of courses, programs, and other experiences can adopt an integrative approach, including first-year seminars, dual majors, minors, interdisciplinary courses and curricula, living-learning communities, and capstone projects. It can take place within a disciplinary or interdisciplinary major or within general education courses. It can reflect the world outside academia freed of academia’s disciplinary silos. Integration can also be superficial and artificial when only one discipline is present for the learning design or delivery (Riley, 2015). Box 3-1 offers an example of a superficial integrative educational experience.
One definition of integration is that it merges contents and/or pedagogies traditionally occurring in one discipline with those in other disciplines in an effort to facilitate student learning. By this definition, integration can be as simple as using haikus or songs to convey scientific theories in class (Crowther, 2012; Pollack and Korol, 2013) or as complicated as developing full courses incorporating art, design, and engineering (Fantauzzacoffin et al., 2012; Gurnon et al., 2013). For example, exposure to the arts and humanities could demonstrate to students in STEMM fields the societal, economic, and political implications of scientific discovery and technological development (Grasso and Martinelli, 2010).
Chapter 6 examines the evidence for positive outcomes from integrative learning experiences in three categories:
- Through a single course (in-course integration), whether by offering students opportunities to observe a topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives, by creating a multidisciplinary teaching team, or by focusing on a theme that can be considered through various disciplinary lenses. In-course integration occurs when concepts and pedagogies from the arts and humanities are integrated into already established STEM courses, or vice versa, or when new interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary courses are developed as part of a larger curriculum.
- Through a combination of courses (within-curriculum integration), whether thematically linked general education courses, integrated elective courses, an integration of general education and majors, interdisciplinary majors or programs, or integrative seminars. Within-curriculum integration focuses either on adding non-discipline-related courses to a major curriculum or on developing an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary major with both arts and humanities and STEMM content.
- Through extracurricular or co-curricular experiences, such as Maker Spaces and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) clubs.
These three approaches share many similarities, and they overlap at times, but they tend to be structured differently and occur in different contexts. In the following sections we offer examples of courses and programs that fit within each of these categories. In Chapter 6, we discuss the known impact on students of many of these example courses and programs.
In-course integration occurs when concepts and pedagogies from the arts and humanities are integrated into already established STEMM courses, or vice versa, or when new interdisciplinary courses are developed as part of a larger, unintegrated curriculum. Box 3-2 describes examples of various forms of in-course integration. Examples include the Projects and Practices in Integrated Art and Engineering course taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Fantauzzacoffin et al., 2012), the use of digital video production to describe the fundamental process of neurotransmission in an introduction to neuroscience course at Emmanuel College (Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012), the Designing for Open Innovation course at The University of Oklahoma (Ifenthaler et al., 2015), and the Digital Sound
and Music online course developed by scholars at Wake Forest University (Shen et al., 2015).
Integration of the arts and humanities into STEMM courses, and the integration of STEMM into humanities and arts courses, can take many forms. Further, the goals and outcomes of integrative courses are diverse. Following here we offer a description of some existing efforts to integrate the arts, humanities, and STEMM fields, and vice versa, within the context of a single course and describe some of the goals of such efforts.
The integration of the arts and humanities into STEMM courses may inspire improved understanding of STEMM concepts, greater contextualization of STEMM subjects, new STEMM hypotheses and research questions, and enhanced innovation in STEMM. It may also support the development of twenty first–century skills in students, such as critical
thinking, communication skills, teamwork, and lifelong learning attitudes (see Chapter 6 for an expanded discussion). For example, the synthesis of mathematics and music has given rise to many courses, often using one of the topics to recruit students who may be reluctant to take a course on the other (e.g., a student who is comfortable learning about music but may be anxious about taking a mathematics course, or vice versa). Also, combining science, mathematics, and social justice can help both STEMM students and those from other disciplines appreciate the societal relevance of scientific and mathematical concepts and develop a critical eye for the use and misuse of evidence in public discourse (Chamany, 2006; Skubikowski et al., 2010; Suzuki, 2015; Watts and Guessous, 2006). As another example, the practice of origami has provided a nexus for artistic and mathematical energies, as evidenced by interdisciplinary symposia on many campuses, by
the popularity of computer programmer-turned-origami artist Robert Lang as a guest speaker, and by the Guggenheim Award presented to MIT’s Erik and Martin Demaine (Hull, 2006; Lang, 2012). Finally, some of the courses reviewed in Chapter 6 are associated with student outcomes that align with the twenty first–century skills, including critical thinking, teamwork, communication skills, and lifelong learning attitudes that employers are calling for and that will serve students in life and citizenship.
The integration of STEMM content and pedagogies into the courses of students pursuing a major or career in the arts and humanities can also take place in many different ways and for many different reasons. Among the courses we review in this report are those that strive to integrate STEMM with the goal of promoting greater scientific and technological literacy among humanities and arts majors, those that aim to harness STEMM tools to promote advances in artistic and humanistic scholarship and practice, and those that take STEMM, and the influence of STEMM on society, humanity, and nature, as the focus of humanistic and artistic inquiry.
Advocates for technological literacy among arts and humanities majors have created a variety of integrated courses, and a wide range of these have been surveyed and evaluated (Ebert-May et al., 2010; Krupczak, 2004; Krupczak and Ollis, 2006). In a 2007 workshop cohosted by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering, John Krupczak and colleagues defined four main categories of efforts to foster “technological citizenship: survey courses, courses focused on a particular topic, design courses that involve students in technology creation, and technology in context” courses in which technology is critically connected to other disciplines. Longitudinal studies of technological literacy efforts have yielded a relatively robust set of technological literacy outcomes and methods for their assessment (NAE and NAS, 2006, 2012). See Chapter 6 for a review of the student outcomes associated with science and technology literacy courses.
Much as humanities and arts content often serve to contextualize STEMM content, some humanists have turned their lenses on technology, making STEMM the context for application of humanistic and artistic methodologies. The interdisciplinary discussions fostered by the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts in its journal Configurations served as a forum for such scholars as Katherine Hayles and Donna Haraway to discuss what it means to be human in a “posthuman” world (Gerrans and Hayles, 1999) or an increasingly technophilic world (Haraway, 1994). In Chapter 4, we describe undergraduate courses that use STEMM subjects as topics for humanistic and artistic inquiry.
Also, some humanists and artists see integration with STEMM fields as necessary for addressing the challenges of our century. Through the Humanities Connections grant program, the National Endowment for the Humani-
ties (NEH) has funded curricular development that integrates humanistic study with other disciplines, either in general education or in major fields of study, to advance this goal. Former NEH chairman William D. Adams explained the goals of the Humanities Connections program:
The most important challenges and opportunities of the 21st century require the habits of mind and forms of knowledge fostered by study of the humanities. The NEH Humanities Connections grant program will help prepare students in all academic fields for their roles as engaged citizens and productive professionals in a rapidly changing and interdependent world.3
The NEH particularly encourages projects that foster collaboration between humanities faculty and their counterparts in social and natural sciences and in preprofessional programs in business, engineering, health sciences, law, and computer science. The inaugural grant competition funded 18 programs in medical humanities, environmental humanities, urban humanities, creative and ethical entrepreneurship, ecoliteracy, digital humanities, humanities and engineering, and other integrative topics.
Further, some humanists claim that STEMM pedagogies can strengthen learning in humanities courses. For example, Cavanaugh (2010) argues that humanists should use approaches borrowed from the cognitive sciences, such as problem-based learning, wikis, service learning, and other software tools, to boost the outcomes associated with the humanities. Such approaches can result in outcomes that include comfort with ambiguity, problem-solving abilities, more astute questioning, and drawing relationships through the use of metaphors, similes, and demonstrations.
Although humanities and art scholars always have used technical tools in their research and pedagogy, more and more scholars and students are engaging with the sophisticated technical tools grouped under umbrella terms such as “digital humanities” and “big data.” Examples include geographic information system (GIS) mapping (Bodenhamer et al., 2010), the use of databases for research, and rapid prototyping or 3D printers. Box 3-3 describes the use of engineering design as one such integrative tool.
Within-curriculum integration focuses either on adding non-discipline-related courses to a major curriculum or developing an inter- or transdisciplinary major with both arts and humanities and STEMM courses. Examples of strong programs include Sixth College at the University of
California, San Diego (Ghanbari, 2015), the Connections program for first-year engineering students at the Colorado School of Mines (Olds and Miller, 2004), and the integrated program for first- and second-year students implemented by the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000).
The engineering design process (described in Box 3-3), can also provide an organizing principle for within-curriculum integration. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Terrascope is a first-year program that supplements introductory courses with problem-based experiences and cross-disciplinary teams (Lipson et al., 2007). The iFoundry program at the University of Illinois began as an infusion of philosophical and other
perspectives into engineering education and is now a multifaceted “cross-disciplinary curriculum incubator” for project-based learning, entrepreneurship and innovation experiences, and methods for enhancing students’ intrinsic motivation. An initiative at Smith College has involved faculty, students, and staff from all disciplines in a design thinking community to reimagine the liberal arts. This project embraces “radical collaboration to encourage the unconventional mixing of ideas, thereby creating a culture where ideas (and the technologies that help us realize these ideas) belong simultaneously to no one and everyone” (Mikic, 2014).
Many universities with strong STEMM and liberal arts programs have a long history of offering programs in science, technology, and society (STS), also sometimes called “science studies.” Generally, these programs apply the methods and values of humanities and social science inquiry to the natural sciences and engineering. They teach students to understand and critique science and technology in their historical, political, and cultural contexts and to appreciate the social forces that surround and shape advances in scientific knowledge and technology (Akcay and Akcay, 2015; Han and Jeong, 2014). In these programs, students must understand the nature of scientific and technical inquiry and innovation as well as develop the critical thinking skills associated with political science, history, sociology, anthropology, and ethics. Each program tends to occupy a particular niche, both in the broader field of STS and at its own institution. For example, the program at the University of Virginia is housed within the engineering school and offers courses such as engineering ethics to engineering undergraduates. Others, for example, programs at Lehigh University and Virginia Tech, are housed in colleges of arts and sciences and were founded with the vision of attracting both engineering and liberal arts students. The growth of STS has helped demonstrate the many ways in which science depends on technological advances, as well as the dependence of both science and technology on economic, social, political, and cultural factors.
Another curricular program that integrates humanistic and STEMM fields centers on the profound ethical questions resulting from rapid scientific and technological advances in medicine. Bioethics is now a well-established integrative discipline in which students develop the tools and context for moral discernment in life sciences, medicine, and biotechnology, infusing their analyses with content and perspectives from law, policy, and philosophy (Leppa and Terry, 2004; Lewin et al., 2004; Vaughn, 2012). More broadly, ethics is a standard (and often required) component of research programs in the sciences (NAS, NAE, and IOM, 2009). Premed and engineering curricula, because they are more oriented toward professional tracks, also provide opportunities to integrate philosophical, sociological, and humanistic modes of inquiry and content as part of ethics instruction.
The Grand Challenges issued by the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 are motivating engineering educators and practicing engineers to consider problems that are inherently sociotechnical and are intertwined with geopolitical, economic, philosophical, and cultural factors. Institutions that develop Grand Challenges project experiences recruit students from many majors. In working together to define design problems and to identify context-specific issues and possible solutions, students from all backgrounds gain appreciation for the methods, values, and history of other disciplines. When designed to explicitly include nonengineering students, the aim is for students to develop a mutual literacy in each other’s disciplines and collaborate in this shared space (National Academy of Engineering, 2012).
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Great Problems Seminars address a wide range of vexing global sociotechnical problems, including the Grand Challenges (Savilonis et al., 2010). Since 2007, this team-taught problem-based learning course has engaged first-year students in “interdisciplinary, not multidisciplinary” discussions and design projects related to global concerns. Faculty teams are multidisciplinary, pairing, for example, a chemist with an economist. WPI has used both internal and external assessments to refine course outcomes, structure, and delivery. Faculty members have also developed a handbook to enable additional WPI faculty to join the Great Problems teaching team and to disseminate effective strategies. Preliminary assessment data suggest that students in this program showed evidence of teamwork, empathy, and integrative learning (DiBiasio, et al., 2017).
It is important to note that within-curriculum integration can take many different forms. One way that within-curriculum integration often occurs is through general education programs (see Box 3-4). A common form of general education in colleges and universities is the “cafeteria approach,” where students take a selection of different courses outside their major and are thereby considered to be generally educated. Schools in the University of California system employ a more organized approach, where students take classes according to prescribed thematic clusters. The University of California–Merced, in particular, has launched an innovative first-year undergraduate course called “Core 1: The World at Home.” Core 1 introduces students to the range of scholarly inquiry at the university, all in the span of a one-semester, writing-intensive, integrated curriculum that encourages them to make their own connections among the disciplines while practicing both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The course entails a series of 15 weekly 1-hour lectures (given by different faculty from across the disciplines) whose subjects students process in 2.5 hours of small-group discussion sections (the instructors of which assign and grade all course work) and a coordinated, cumulative sequence of written assignments (Hothem, 2013).
WPI’s 47-year-old curriculum offers another example of integration in the context of general education. This curriculum, known as the WPI Plan,4 brings vertical integration through general education requirements to every undergraduate. Since 1970, every WPI undergraduate has completed three general education projects in addition to the (optional, but popular) six-credit Great Problems Seminar described earlier. Two of these three required projects are deeply integrative. Under the WPI Plan, all undergraduates complete an 18-credit Humanities and Arts Project allowing them to pursue a creative or scholarly project of their choice through the lens of the humanities or arts. During the junior year, students complete a nine-credit
4 For more information on the WPI Plan, see https://www.wpi.edu/project-based-learning/wpi-plan.
Interactive Qualifying Project, an open-ended interdisciplinary team project addressing some topic at the intersection of technology and human need. In the senior year, they complete a nine-credit Major Qualifying Project, the equivalent of a senior thesis or research project. As these projects take place at every year of the undergraduate course of study, students interweave integrated, purposive projects with coursework in their major. See Chapter 6 for additional examples of integrative general education programs.
In addition to integrative general education, global education can offer opportunities for building integrative competencies. For example, the University of Rhode Island’s successful International Engineering Program (IEP), in which engineering students double major in a foreign language and an engineering discipline (coupled with a study-abroad experience), has grown steadily and expanded to several language tracks. The IEP has produced other, less-anticipated benefits: “Women have enrolled in engineering in increasing numbers . . . and the academic quality of Rhode Island’s engineering students has improved” (Fischer, 2012). Although such programs are built to couple STEMM with language ability, their appeal to students suggests that integrative projects that focus on the Grand Challenges in a global context may strengthen not only all students’ global citizenship but also the perceived, real-world relevance of the contributions of both STEMM fields and the arts and humanities. Blue et al. (2013), Nieusma (2011), and others have documented the challenges and rewards of such global projects for a wide range of students.
Integration can also take place in the context of learning communities. One explicitly arts and STEM integrative learning community is the University of Michigan’s Living Arts program,5 themed around the creative process and funded by the provost’s office and academic units that self-identify as “maker” units. These include the School of Music, Theatre and Dance; Stamps School of Art and Design; Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; and the College of Engineering. They have a required first-semester four-credit curricular course, Introduction to Creative Process, co-taught by one instructor from each of the four academic units, plus a writing instructor. Students receive academic credit fulfilling the university’s first-year writing requirement, as well as experience hands-on making through the lens of creative process exploration within all four disciplines. At the graduate level, the University of Michigan also has one of the only engineered interdisciplinary graduate residences, the Munger Graduate Residences. It actively recruits students from all 19 academic units on campus, and places them in living suites based on interests, not disciplines. Their website states, “Experience true multi-disciplinary collaboration. The
world increasingly presents challenges that cut across multiple disciplines and skillsets. At the Munger Graduate Residences, a diverse mix of graduate and professional students from various fields live, study and interact together, building a culture of collaboration.”6
Learning communities are common at community colleges, as they are considered a high-impact practice (Keup, 2013; Tinto, 2003). Of the examples of integrative programs this committee considered at community colleges, the vast majority took place in the context of a learning community. See Box 3-5 for one example of a successful integrative program at Guttmann Community College. Other notable programs are in place at LaGuardia Community College,7 Maricopa Community College,8 and Seattle Central Community College.9 Given that they generally have limited resources and a relatively short time with students, community colleges have had to be particularly innovative in producing integrated approaches to general education—for example, combining training in mathematics, writing, historical analysis, and natural sciences in single courses. According to administrators at these institutions, one of the most difficult challenges they face is policy makers’ misconceptions that liberal education and vocational training are unrelated and that the former offers no added value to the latter.
Co-curricular and Extra-curricular Integration
Co-curricular and extra-curricular integrative opportunities include internships, faculty-run labs and makerspaces, and interdisciplinary research programs. Some of the most popular programs include the Maharam STEAM Fellows at the Rhode Island School of Design (Rhode Island School of Design, 2016), the Launch Lab at Youngstown State University (Wallace et al., 2010), the Institute of Design at Stanford University (Borrego et al., 2009), and the “Dance Your PhD” competition hosted by Science magazine (Bohannon, 2016; Shen et al., 2015).
The movement associated with the acronym STEAM provides many examples of co-curricular integrative initiatives. Official STEAM student clubs have expanded to many campuses, including Brown, MIT, and Harvard, as students focus on “uniting the Arts with STEM” to “ignite
7 For more information on Learning Communities at LaGuardia Community College, see https://www.laguardia.edu/ctl/Learning_Communities.aspx.
8 For more information on Learning Communities at Maricopa Community Colleges, see https://hr.maricopa.edu/professional-development/learning-communities.
9 For more information on Learning Communities at Seattle Central College, see https://seattlecentral.edu/programs/college-transfer/learning-options/learning-communities.
communications between disparate fields in academia, business, and thought” (STEAM, 2016, para. 1). STEAM efforts have gained legislative support through House Resolution 319, introduced in 2012 and still under committee consideration, which “expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into federal programs that target Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.”10 Notable STEAM efforts include instruction in hand drawing (at the University Illinois) and narrative and role playing (at the University of Delaware).
10 H.Res.319—Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into federal programs that target the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States. 112th Congress (2011–2012).
Integrative, experiential learning experiences offer students an opportunity to appreciate both their own and others’ contributions to a shared outcome. Such projects may be commercially or socially entrepreneurial, community based, concerned with social justice, or focused on a combination of valued goals, thereby developing each team member’s skills and perspectives in service of a larger goal. They may employ various pedagogical tools, such as problem-based learning, design thinking, or other collaborative processes.
A platform for experiential learning experiences can often be found in campus-based centers for innovation, creativity, and/or entrepreneurship. In nonprofit and public-sector projects, social innovation can be as relevant as innovative commercial ventures (Gulbrandsen and Aanstad, 2015). These kinds of experiences can strengthen both STEMM and arts and humani-
ties students’ abilities to value the merits of their own disciplinary training while learning more about the contributions of others (Brown and Kuratko, 2015).
STUDIES OF INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCES DO NOT ALWAYS INVOLVE INTEGRATION OF THE HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND STEMM
Although this study uses the term “integration” to refer specifically to the integration of the humanities and arts with STEMM fields, higher education scholars consider integrative educational experiences more broadly. Specifically, some scholars view “integration” as a learning outcome unto itself (i.e., “integrative learning”) and characterize it as a process or mechanism that helps students integrate or bring together ideas as an embedded element of a curricular or co-curricular program or initiative. Importantly, this may occur in the context of the integration of the humanities and arts with STEMM fields, or it may occur in other educational contexts. Indeed, scholars who work with the National Survey of Student Engagement have established that the integrative experience may involve any college process or mechanism that students identify as helping them integrate or bring together ideas and may not be something that is bound to any given curricular or co-curricular context (Laird et al., 2005). Though we focus exclusively on the integration of the humanities, arts, and STEMM subjects in this report, we offer this description of the larger context in which scholars have considered integration to acknowledge that the type of integration this study is dealing with falls within a larger body of research in higher education.
In the higher education research literature, the term “integration” can refer both to the design of a learning experience (e.g., a course that integrates medicine and the arts) and to a student’s cognitive experience that unifies different disciplinary approaches (e.g., an assignment that asks students to integrate engineering design principles into an ethical decision-making scenario). We offer here two published definitions of integrative learning that provide some insight into the anticipated student outcomes of an integrative learning experience: one from higher education researcher James Barber, and a second from the widely used and often lauded Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) rubric for integrative learning.
Barber (2012, p. 593) defines integrative learning as
the demonstrated ability to connect, apply, and/or synthesize information coherently from disparate contexts and perspectives, and make use of these new insights in multiple contexts. This includes the ability to connect the domain of ideas and philosophies to the everyday experience, from one field of study or discipline to another, from the past to the present, between campus and community life, from one part to the whole, from the abstract to the concrete, among multiple identity roles—and vice versa.
Extending this idea, the AAC&U has developed an assessment rubric designed to help educators ascertain when integration is occurring in their students’ work (AAC&U, 2010). From the association’s perspective, students are demonstrating integration as a learning outcome when they are able to
- connect relevant experiences and academic knowledge;
- see and make connections across disciplines and perspectives;
- adapt and apply skills, abilities, theories, or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations;
- communicate in language that demonstrates cross-disciplinary fluency; and
- demonstrate a developing sense of self as a learner, building on prior experiences to respond to new and challenging contexts.
These capabilities point toward a distinctive form of learning (Barber, 2012). The definitions from Barber and AAC&U demonstrate a growing commitment to understand not only experiences that are integrated but also how those experiences might contribute distinctively to student learning. Perhaps exposing students to integrated learning experiences will not only promote existing learning and career outcomes but also spur a distinctive form of learning not captured by or part of other learning dimensions (e.g., cognitive development, critical thinking, pluralism, etc.). For an excellent discussion of this issue, see Barber (2012) and Youngerman (2017). But whether the integration of the humanities, arts, and STEMM disciplines leads to integrative learning remains an open question. As Chapter 5 demonstrates, the available research does not speak directly to this question. The committee would urge future research to consider this question as, hypothetically, certain approaches to the integration of the humanities, arts, and STEMM should promote integrative learning.
Assessment of integrative learning is important for understanding the student experience in a course or program that integrates the humanities, arts, and STEMM disciplines. Unless students are deliberately making con-
nections across disciplinary domains, integration may not be taking place despite the programmatic design choices of educators. Although integrative programs and initiatives have been studied for their relationship to learning outcomes (see Chapter 6), very few scholars have examined what students are integrating or how participation in these programs and initiatives helps students with the integrative process (i.e., how these students are bringing together information). Rather, scholars assume that integration is occurring as a result of students’ participation in these programs and initiatives and suggest that associations between participation and learning outcomes are based on the assumed integration occurring. The next chapter further explores the challenges of assessing learning outcomes in higher education, in general, and the challenges of assessing the impact of programs and courses that integrate the humanities, arts, and STEMM, specifically.