Congressional STEAM Caucus

February 2013

On February 14, 2013 RISD President and STEAM champion John Maeda co-hosted the kickoff briefing of the bipartisan Congressional STEAM Caucus, co-chaired by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL).

The event included brief testimonials from experts in the fields of science, design, art and education. Speakers emphasized the ways in which STEAM contributes to innovation, and plenty of people were listening – a standing-room-only crowd even though the original briefing room had been moved to a larger space.

“Innovation depends on the problem solving, risk taking and creativity that are natural to the way artists and designers think,” Maeda noted. “Art and science – once inextricably linked – are better together than apart.”

It’s that eye toward innovation that has Washington talking. As of February 14, representatives from 11 states had signed on to the Caucus; in addition to Bonamici and Schock, the include: Matt Cartwright (D-PA); David Cicilline (D-RI); Gerald Connolly (D-VA); Jim Langevin (D-RI); Dave Loebsack (D-IA); Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC); Jared Polis (D-CO); Tim Ryan (D-OH); Bobby Scott (D-VA); Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH); and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

“We frequently discuss the importance of STEM education, but we can’t ignore the importance of engaging and educating both halves of the brain,” Bonamici maintains. “Creative, critical thinking leads to innovation. The integration of the arts into STEM curriculum will excite creativity in the minds of our future leaders.”

Panelists at the briefing included:

Trevor Bailey
Director, Adobe Education Worldwide 

Bill O’Brien
Senior Advisor for Program Innovation
National Endowment for the Arts

Eric Siegel
Director, New York Hall of Science

Joyce Ward
Education Coordinator
US Patent and Trademark Office

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