Why STEAMED matters more than STEM…

Mar 27th, 2017

STEM is lauded as the engine of future global innovation and growth.

More jobs, better paying careers, increased quality of life.

(STEM means “science, technology, engineering & math“.)

Not for my Canada 150.

Why?

Institutionalizing silos of traditional ‘hard’ sciences pitted against other educational and experiential disciplines in the humanities is self-serving & frankly, short-sighted.

Because silos destroy innovation, culture, societies and governments.

If we throw STEM into a boiling pot of water, what do we get?

STEAMED.

Science, technology, engineering, arts, math, entrepreneurship & design.

An interdisciplinary & multi-disciplinary movement giving students, educators, entrepreneurs, social innovators, governments and citizens a place to play, think, create, experiment, fail and succeed – while attacking wicked Canadian social problems.

Why does this matter?

Two reasons.

First, in a highly disruptive technological world, where instant & social communications thrive, and globalization threatens the ethos and ideology of democracy, Canada’s competitive advantage lies in this nation’s ability to channel and converge its disciplines, diversity, talents, languages, experiences and ideas to help solve our and the world’s problems.

Whether dementia, climate change in the North, poverty, sustainable jobs, artificial intelligence to understand ourselves or a cleaner, greener arena to win the next Olympic gold medal in curling or hockey.

In 2008, Michael Porter argued that “competitive advantage is a function of either providing comparable buyer value more efficiently than competitors (low cost), or performing activities at comparable cost but in unique ways that create more buyer value than competitors and, hence, command a premium price (differentiation). You win either by being cheaper or by being different (which means being perceived by the customer as better or more relevant). There are no other ways.”

STEAMED can make Canada not just different or relevant, but impactful.

By shedding institutional and ideological silos across jurisdictions and sectors, value can be created using design to unleash and solve wicked problems.

Second, artists, designers & creators matter. Technology innovators need people who can speak and connect to humans at home and across the world – in their language and platform of choice.

Artists and designers create relevant visual, auditory and otherworldly new worlds that enable technologists to drive innovation in disruptive technologies.

Moreover, people educated in the humanities and in real experiential life can explain and express the technology use (or mis-use) in a human-centric way.

Without a human voice, innovation dies a quick death on whatever platform it may reside.

Porter’s competitive advantage about being different makes sense. Because the quality of voices, visualization, images, content to support an engineered product or idea speaks to relevancy.

So its time Canada grew up and assumed its rightful place in the modern world.

Shed the silos.

And enable STEAMED thinkers & doers across the nation.

Because that is Canada’s 150 legacy and beyond.

Chrystia

vision | voice | visuals mine