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NASEM town hall examines the integration of arts and science

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A group comprising more than 50 administration and faculty members from Penn State and other universities gathered on Feb. 27 to review the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report that examines the importance of integrating the arts and sciences. 

The town hall, organized by College of Arts and Architecture Dean Barbara O. Korner, offered a rare opportunity for scholars from various disciplines to gather and discuss the progress of art and science integration as well as participate in focus groups to navigate the nuances of interdisciplinary integration in higher education. 

Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones kicked off the event with an encouraging speech that reinforced Penn State’s commitment to advancing the arts and humanities. The University's Board of Trustees recently extended the strategic plan by five years to deliver on a mission that not only invests in arts and humanities, but also places importance on interdisciplinary collaboration, according to Jones. 

“Some of the biggest thinking in this area is emerging now,” Jones said. “The University is very excited to move forward with these initiatives and to see what comes out of meetings such as this.”

Youngmoo Kim, director of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies Center at Drexel University, and contributor to the NASEM report titled “The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree,” delivered the highlights of the report that focused on learning and career outcomes associated with integrated approaches, support for integrative approaches, evaluating integrative courses and programs, enhancing inclusivity through integrative courses and programs, and removing the barriers to integrative approaches. The highlights of the report can be read here.

College of Arts and Architecture administrators Mallika Bose, interim associate dean for research, creative activity, and graduate studies, and Scott Wing, associate dean for academic affairs and outreach, delivered presentations on the University’s integration initiatives alongside administrators and faculty from Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, the Sustainability Institute and the Institutes of Energy and Environment. 

Following the presentations, breakout sessions focused on sustainability, general education and graduate studies created ample opportunity for collaboration and brainstorming. The takeaways from the breakout sessions and reaction to the town hall will be included in a full-length story to be posted on Penn State News in the coming weeks.