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The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree



As the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) and other divisions and units within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine embark on new projects aimed at improving the understanding and application of science, engineering and medicine toward the social, economic and cultural well-being of the nation and planet, we believe it is critical to work with partners in the arts and humanities for their input and engagement.

While our focus is on developing policy recommendations that improve science, engineering and health education and training in our nation’s colleges and universities, a broader goal is to enable all citizens to have enriching and meaningful lives. As such, we believe that more effective integration of educational experiences in all disciplines—particularly in the arts, humanities, sciences, engineering, and medicine—will benefit all of our nation’s citizens.

A December 2, 2015 workshop in Washington, DC, hosted by BHEW, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and attended by more than 110 scientists, engineers, artists, humanists, educators, policymakers and industry executives was the initial step in this effort. This project significantly builds on that workshop with joint support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree is now available to download on the National Academies Press website. You may also request to purchase a hard copy of this report.

Report Highlights are available here



 An ad hoc committee overseen by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW), in collaboration with units in PGA, NAE, IOM, and DBASSE, will produce a consensus report that examines the evidence behind the assertion that educational programs that mutually integrate learning experiences in the humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM) lead to improved educational and career outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students. In particular, the study will examine the following: 

• Evidence regarding the value of integrating more STEMM curricula and labs into the academic programs of students majoring in the humanities and arts in order to understand the following: (1) how STEMM experiences provide important knowledge about the scientific understanding of the natural world and the characteristics of new technologies, knowledge that is essential for all citizens of a modern democracy; (2) how technology contributes essentially to sound decision making across all professional fields; and (3) how STEMM experiences develop the skills of scientific thinking (a type of critical thinking), innovation, and creativity that may complement and enrich the critical thinking and creativity skills developed by the arts and humanities.

• Evidence regarding the value of integrating curricula and experiences in the arts and humanities--including , history, literature, philosophy, culture, and religion--into college and university STEMM education programs, in order to understand whether and how these experiences: (1) prepare STEMM students and workers to be more effective communicators, critical thinkers, problem-solvers and leaders; (2) prepare STEMM graduates to be more creative and effective scientists, engineers, technologists, and health care providers, particularly with respect to understanding the broad social and cultural impacts of applying knowledge to address challenges and opportunities in the workplace and in their communities; and (3) develop skills of critical thinking, innovation, and creativity that may complement and enrich the skills developed by STEMM fields.

• New models and good practices for mutual integration of the arts and humanities and STEMM fields at 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, and graduate programs, drawing heavily on an analysis of programs that have been implemented at institutions of higher education.

The report will summarize the results of this examination and provide recommendations for all stakeholders to support appropriate endeavors to strengthen higher education initiatives in this area.

The committee would like to hear from you. If you would like to comment on this study, you may send your comments to Ashley Bear.


Our committee chair, David Skorton discusses the report and answers the following questions:
Why should institutions shift toward a more integrated curriculum?
What benefits does integrating the humanities, arts, and STEM have for student learning?
Why is integrating the arts, humanities and STEM important in today’s world?


Committee Meeting 1
July 27 –28, 2016
Washington, DC

Public agenda 
Program book
  • Open sessions will include public testimony on the topic from researchers and scholars as well as from those who have implemented new model programs on campus.
The expected time line is:

First Regional Workshop
October 13-14, 2016
Boston, MA

Public agenda
Program book

Committee Meeting 2
February 8-9, 2017
Washington, DC

Public agenda

Second Regional Workshop

April 6-7, 2017
Arizona State University, Tempe Campus

Public agenda

Committee Meeting 3
July 13-14, 2017
Washington, DC

Public agenda

Committee Meeting 4 (Closed)
October 19-20, 2017
Washington, DC

Report Publication & Dissemination
May 7, 2018
Washington, DC
A national workshop to release the report and build discussions around the implementation of the report’s recommendations


You can access the Report Compendium here.



David J. Skorton (NAM)
Secretary of the Smithsonian


Susan Albertine
Senior Scholar and Director, LEAP States 
The Association of American Colleges & Universities

Norman Augustine (NAS/NAE)
Retired Chairman and CEO 
Lockheed Martin Corporation 

Laurie Baefsky
Executive Director, ArtsEngine and the Alliance 
The Arts in Research Universities (a2ru)

Kristin Boudreau
Professor and Department Head, Humanities and Arts 
The Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Norman Bradburn
Senior Fellow, NORC 
The Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus 
The University of Chicago 

Al Bunshaft
Senior Vice President 
Dassault Systèmes’ Americas Corporation 
Gail Burd
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
The University of Arizona

Edward Derrick
Director, Center of Science, Policy, & Society Programs 

Bonnie Thornton Dill
Dean, College of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Women’s Studies
The University of Maryland 

E. Thomas Ewing
Professor of History, 
Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Research, and Diversity 
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, 
Virginia Tech
J. Benjamin Hurlbut
Assistant Professor of Biology and Society 
The School of Life Sciences 
Arizona State University

Pamela L. Jennings

Former Program Officer, National Science Foundation CreativeIT program

Youngmoo Kim
Director, The Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center,
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
Drexel University

Robert Martello
Professor of the History of Science and Technology 
Olin College of Engineering

Gunalan Nadarajan
Dean and Professor, The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design 
The University of Michigan

Tom Nelson Laird
Director, The Center for Postsecondary Research, and
Principal Investigator 
The Faculty Survey of Student Engagement 

Lynn Pasquerella
The Association of American Colleges & Universities
Suzanna Rose
Founding Associate Provost for the Office to Advance Women, Equity, and Diversity
Professor of Psychology & Women's Studies 
The College of Arts & Sciences 
Florida International University

Laura Vosejpka
Founding Dean, College of Sciences and Liberal Arts 
Kettering University

Lisa M. Wong
Co-Director, The Arts and Humanities Initiative 
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics 
Harvard Medical School

Ashley Bear, Program Officer
Tom Rudin, BHEW Director
Irene Ngun, Research Associate
Austen Applegate, Senior Program Assistant
Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard, Christine Mirzayan Fellow (January 2017 - April 2017)
Elizabeth Garbee, Christine Mirzayan Fellow (January 2018 - April 2018)


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