What happens when we bring together faculty and students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), humanities and art and ask them to think together about topics of global importance, such as water? The results are engaging conversation, stimulating learning and solid ideas about bringing new knowledge into the classroom.
Alexandria art faculty Stacy Slaten had her art students make meaningful art about the fluidity of water to support the third annual Global Humanities Institute STEAM event at Montgomery College. The theme for this year was “STEAMed: Exploring the Intersection Between Global Humanities and STEM Through Water.” The pieces, done in charcoal and graphite, were displayed on March 31 at the Germantown Campus.
This marks the first year that NOVA has collaborated with Montgomery College on their annual STEAM event. The collaboration was forged between Dr. Gillian Backus (Science, Loudoun Campus) and Rita Kranidis, the director of the Global Humanities Institute at Montgomery College, when they met at a conference at Roosevelt University during summer 2016. Both faculty are SENCER Leadership Fellows and both are interested in forging collaborations between the humanities and STEM fields.
The goal of this professional development meeting was to facilitate conversations among participants about water-related topics and generate activities and strategies for turning these ideas into action in the classroom. Following introductions from Sanjay Rai, the vice president for academic affairs; Margaret Latimer, the vice president and provost of Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus; and Kranidis, the 56 participants began facilitated discussions about various aspects of water and how they could relate to STEM, humanities and the classroom.
The table discussions were about topics such as “Water Security,” “Contamination” and “Protecting Water: Exploring the Science and History that Shapes Water Policy.” Each table was led by two Montgomery College faculty members, each pair representing both a STEM discipline and a humanities discipline. Thus, each conversation was intentionally interdisciplinary, allowing faculty to speak from their expertise and learn from others.
Once the table discussions concluded, the groups reported out to the larger participant group on the insights and classroom activities generated by their conversations. All participants visited the beautiful artwork and admired the students’ contributions.