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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Today's Big Idea: STEAM

The Big Idea for Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The focus in education on STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a great start to creating scientifically and technologically literate students. And yet, a growing chorus of educators are asking where the arts fits in all of that? Is an arts education merely something that is nice to have, or is it actually essential for success in the 21st century?

Experts such as RISD's John Maeda argue that the pendulum swing between teaching the arts versus teaching science represents a false dichotomy.

Maeda says we can expand STEM into STEAM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics -- if we focus on three fronts. The first is the reintegration of the arts into K-12 curriculum. The second front is research, or "getting more countries to adopt arts in their research advancement structures. The third and final component to implementing STEAM, Maeda says, is to get more employers interested in hiring artists and designers, creatives."

Maeda sees advancement on all three fronts. 


  1. 1 Joi Ito's Deep Dive
    Daniel Honan Input/Output
  2. 2 Science Literacy
    George Church
  3. 3 Kyle Loh Discusses How He First Became a Scientist
    Kyle Loh
  4. 4 Obama's Cold, Mathematical Calculation
    Nicholas Clairmont Think Tank

Today's Big Idea: STEAM

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