Science and art

Science and art are rarely thought of as going hand-in-hand. In fact, we typically think of scientists and artists as having entirely different type of brains – one logical and analytical, the other creative and subjective.


Yet in reality, they share some key similarities – both scientists and artists must closely observe their environment and surroundings. And both must think outside the box, whether to create a new hypothesis or a novel work of art.

But can artistic expression further the goals of scientific inquiry? That’s what the Baltimore Ecosystem Study seeks to find out with its Art and Science Integration Program. An artist-in-residence is paired with biological and social scientists, with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the urban ecosystem. To date, the program has incorporated writers, painters, poets, and dancers. Steward Pickett is a Distinguished Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute.

“We go beyond just using art as a communication tool from science to the public. We use art as a way to stimulate our scientists in new ways of thinking. And that’s a really different kind of program.”

Art is an important tool in connecting with the general public, driving home complex concepts like climate change in a way that engages diverse audiences. And for students, arts programs can expand creative thinking in a way that complements the focus on STEM education.

Produced in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, this podcast originally aired on June 23, 2014. To access a full archive of Earth Wise podcasts, visit: www.earthwiseradio.org.

Photo: Jacyln Borowski, courtesy Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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