The Arts Can Help Bridge the Innovation Gap
“The Art of Science Learning: Shaping the 21st-Century Workforce” responds to the increasing demand for a workforce that is skilled in creative, interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to innovation, as well as one that is scientifically and mathematically literate.
In recent years, a large number of business leaders have identified a significant “innovation gap” around workforce preparedness in the realms of creativity, collaboration and communication, areas they consider critical to their own companies’ competitiveness1.
Renewed attention is focused on the nature of creativity and the conditions under which it can flourish.2 The lesson of current investigations is that creativity is not the special talent of a few, but a quality that can be nourished and encouraged in us all. Increasingly it is understood that one learns through the hand as well as through the mind and that hands-on experience is an essential element in developing the creative imagination
Recognizing the profound implications for the future of America’s performance in the global economy, leaders are increasingly looking for solutions in domains that lie beyond the boundaries that traditionally defined the business world. A growing number of companies – including more than four hundred of the current Fortune 500 – have turned to arts-based learning, successfully using artistic skills, processes and experiences as organizational resources to strengthen innovation processes and foster creative thinking.3
Empirical investigations into how arts-based learning can promote leadership skills are being undertaken. Jen Katz-Buonincontro, for example, has examined how executive leadership programs have been successfully using the arts, from improvisational theatre to ceramics in enhancing creative leadership skills.4
Companies are discovering how to use artistic resources as learning tools to enhance employee skills in critical areas such as collaboration, change management and intercultural communication.
At the same time, growing numbers of science centers, museums and innovative educators across the country have successfully integrated the arts into informal science education programs as teaching tools, and the value of arts-based approaches to the promotion of scientific literacy has gained broad acceptance.
The current project builds on these successful bodies of experience, and is designed to promote the use of arts-based leaning in informal science education by catalyzing a community of professional interest and practice, and creating new tools and resources to strengthen the capacity of science educators to integrate arts-based approaches to ISE. The thoughtful integration of such a creative, experientially-based, interdisciplinary approach into science education has the potential to make the study of science more attractive and inspiring to students, enhance the scientific literacy of the American people, and ensure a higher level of creativity and innovation across the 21st-century American workforce.
1. See Jill Casner-Lotto and Linda Barrington. Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century Workforce. The Conference Board (2006).
2. See, for example, Mihalyi. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper & Row (1990) and Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books (1993).
3. See Harvey Seifter, “Artists Help Empower Corporate America.” Arts & Business Quarterly. (Spring 2004).
4. J. Katz-Buonincontro, “Using the Arts to Promote Creativity in Leaders.” Journal of Research on Leadership Education Volume 3, Issue 1 (May, 2008)