Sunday, September 15, 2013

Combining art & science in college courses - a case study from DePaw University

I recently stumbled across this paper in PLoS Biology:

Gurnon D, Voss-Andreae J, Stanley J. (2013) Integrating Art and Science in Undergraduate Education. PLoS Biology, 11(2):e1001491.

The article describes Villin, an amazing art-science collaboration at DePaw University. Students and faculty from the chemistry department teamed up with those in the sculpture department to produce abstract sculptures representing folding protein chains:

I loved the sculptures (I want one in my house!) and I loved the trial-and-error, interdisciplinary approach. The authors capitalized on the similar underlying force that motivates people in both disciplines, noting that "what drives innovation in science is inseperable from the elemental urge to express ourselves artistically." The art was produced for an annual on campus event called ArtFest, but the authors had some insightful words about how similar projects might be funded at other universities:
Projects like Villin can be challenging to fund, but they can also be a good fit for more than one funding source. We were able to make ours work by combining resources from the science class budget and from money allocated for special events. (Gurnon et al. 2013)

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