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How do STEM fields–science, technology, engineering and mathematics–inspire music, and vice versa? With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hopkins Center seeks to answer this question through projects bringing together innovative young composers with Dartmouth’s world-renowned STEM faculty. STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning.

“There are so many parallels between art and science,” said Elizabeth Smith, Dean of Arts and Sciences Faculty. “In science, we observe phenomena, we see when X happens, B always happens—there’s a pattern. We generate hypotheses and test them; artists do the same thing. They’re observing nature, they’re observing all kinds of things, and they’re interpreting various patterns. There’s an element of experimentation, uncertainty and surprise about the outcome.”

To date, STEMArts projects have involved emerging composers Fay Wang (2013–14), Tristan Perich (2015–16) and Molly Herron (2016–17). Along with other recent cross-disciplinary programming by the Hop, these commissions are part of the Hop’s Mellon Foundation-funded initiative to more broadly engage students in the arts, especially classical music. The initiative has included substantive, multi-campus research that—among other findings—indicates that students more readily engage in the arts when they see the arts’ connection to other academic areas.


STEMArts Projects


Beginning in 2017-18, multi-instrumentalist/
composer Carla Kihlstedt will engage with Dartmouth’s Environmental Science Department on a new project. Stay tuned!

Carla Kihlstedt


STEMArts: Molly Herron and Engineering
STEMArts: Tristan Perich and Math
STEMArts: Fay Wang and Biology