Incorporating the Arts in STEM processes is often viewed as the doorway to another discipline, providing the humanistic perspective that is often lacking in innovation strategies focusing on productive or scientific-technological aspects.

There are very few experiences in which the Arts are welcomed on an equal footing with other disciplines. This is striking if we consider that the disciplinary distinction has been in existence for little more than two centuries.

There is still a long way to go before the Arts are viewed as a way of generating knowledge, like the sciences, and not simply as the icing on the cake of our existence.

The challenge involves several phases. The first is to move from multidisciplinarity, in which various disciplines coexist but do not contaminate each other, to interdisciplinarity, in which knowledge and views intersect.

But the really qualitative leap will be made if we are able to move from the combination of disciplinary outputs, the result of interdisciplinarity, to the combination of methods, tools and models of thought promoted by transdisciplinarity.

And the Arts are privileged in this respect. Artistic processes not only have applications in their own world (in creating artefacts or creations), but their creative basis allows their applicability in processes of cross-fertilisation with other fields, such as science, urban planning, education, health or industry.

The key lies in highlighting not so much what artists do as what they are, why and what they do it for, their way of looking at the world, of researching, and their ability to analyze complex systems, of acting as catalysts of hidden creative capabilities…

This is the reason why the great challenge of the A of STEAM lies not only in introducing artistic content in education, or even in making the Arts the guiding thread of the curriculum with regard to other subjects. The main challenge lies in incorporating a radically different approach to education per se, to its organisation, to the role of students and teachers in the processes of educational innovation, in making the creative process a methodological framework within which to rethink the ways of learning, of hybridising disciplines, perspectives and thoughts.

In short, the Arts can be a suitable framework for incorporating a critical, ethical and aesthetic perspective into our ways of life, in the search for new social responses that must also originate from education, against a backdrop of urgent sustainability and social inclusion.

Written by Roberto Gómez de la Iglesia, Conexiones Improbables