Town hall to focus on integration of arts, humanities and STEMM


The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, will host a town hall meeting at the University of Michigan on May 28 to discuss unique opportunities for arts integration on campus.

The daylong town hall, set for 9 a.m. at the Michigan League, is part of a series of similar gatherings that a2ru and NASEM have hosted on campuses across the country in recent months. It is free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP online.

The event comes one year after NASEM released a detailed, evidence-based report to describe the impact of integrative approaches to teaching and learning in higher education on students’ academic performance and career readiness.

Two members from the U-M community — Guna Nadarajan, dean of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, and Laurie Baefsky, former executive director of a2ru and U-M’s ArtsEngine — participated in the 22-person committee tasked with compiling its findings for the report.

Released in May 2018, the report represents the culmination of a two-year study conducted by a committee of representatives across the disciplinary spectrum — scientists, engineers, health professionals, humanists, artists and industry leaders. It strongly supports the integration of the arts and humanities with STEMM fields — science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

“This meeting is special because a2ru was founded here — and I believe that Michigan has really been a leader in this important conversation,” said Maryrose Flanigan, executive director of a2ru.

“We can now say that interdisciplinary integration leads to positive student outcomes, including improved written and oral communication skills, ethical decision-making and critical thinking. These town hall meetings are focusing on the ‘What next?’ question.”

Flanigan said the town hall meeting will engage faculty members and leaders from across campus in panel discussions about how to implement strategies that facilitate the creation, evaluation and sustainability of courses and programs that intentionally integrate and connect the arts with other disciplines.

“The goal of this meeting is to position the integration of the arts as something that is more central to U-M’s mission,” Flanigan said.

“Students and faculty should know that they have the opportunity to collaborate — in teaching, research and practice. While U-M already does great work in this area, we want to figure out how we can do a better job of facilitating that work.”

At the town hall, Tom Rudin, director of NASEM’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce, will give an overview of the 2018 report, “The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree.”

Rudin said the report has been among the top five most downloaded NASEM reports during the last year.

“We were amazed at the response and the amount of discussion this report has generated,” he said. “It has struck a chord nationally on the need for better integration of the arts, humanities and STEMM.”



  1. Sandra Drabant
    on May 22, 2019 at 8:06 am

    I am an art therapist who works at Rogel Cancer Center. I wanted to know if Art Therapy was a part of this study and would this town hall be beneficial for me to attend even if it was not part of the study?

    • Maryrose Flanigan Porter
      on May 22, 2019 at 8:36 am

      Sandra, the report focuses on the impact of exposure to arts and humanities for all students and how important that exposure is to holistic education. For medical students, as one example, they can study techniques in theater to gain skills in communicating and empathizing with their patients. Your work embodies part of what the study is reinforcing so perspective at the gathering would reinforce the study’s message. We want to have a dialogue about ways to better integrate the arts & humanities for all disciplines at UM.

  2. Betsy Williams
    on May 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Will some or all of the event be livestreamed?

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