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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 Prof. Elizabeth Smith, Associate Dean for the Sciences. "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, STEM Arts projects have involved emerging composers Fay Wang (2013-14) and Tristan Perich (2015-16). 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.