HAC hosts first Humanities Educators in STEM Environments conference


Sometimes it can be difficult teaching in the humanities at a university with such a strong identity in STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math). How do you convince STEM students that the arts also matter? That was the focus at the first ever Humanities Educators in STEM Environments conference held May 16 at Trine.

The event was organized by HAC professors Dr. Sarah Young and Dr. Alison Witte. The goal was to bring together humanities faculty from regional universities that focus on STEM fields. Together, they could share their experiences and how to pitch the humanities to STEM-focused students.

In total, around 25 faculty and staff from local universities including Trine attended. Throughout the day they delivered and attended eight different presentations and workshops. Still, the event was more than just informational—it was also about networking and building relationships with like-minded faculty facing some of the same issues.

Dr. Young believes in that way, it was a success. “It was really enjoyable to meet faculty from other STEM-focused institutions who are committed to the humanities. We were able to share strategies and knowledge that I think will make us all better teachers.”

A full schedule of presenters is listed below. The plan is to run the conference again next year.

Reflection and Rubrics: Strategies to Guide Student Developed Rubrics
Elkie Burnside–University of Findlay
Writing checklists, commonly used in professional and technical writing environments, to guide writers through discipline specific tasks, allow for variations in projects and the research process, while at the same time ensuring quality documents. This DO presentation will introduce activities from an Introduction to Writing for the Sciences course. Participants are encouraged to bring their own writing assignments to use in the application portion of the workshop.

Engineering Service Trips, Intercultural Competence, and Professional Identity
Rebecca Dyer–Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Richard House–Rose Hulman Institute of Technology
Corey Taylor–Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Gathered data suggests that students in engineering curricula become gradually less concerned with social issues through the course of their studies, despite the many affordances in the field of engineering to solve real problems and create real social benefit. However, philanthropic engineering service projects, like Engineers without Borders and others, fall short of their social-benefit potential. This panel will analyze representative discourse about engineering problem solving during service trips, as well as discuss bodies of knowledge and curricular opportunities in which humanist educators might partner with engineers to create more fruitful service experiences.

Highlighting STEM-related Concepts and Characters in World Literature Texts
Rebecca Dyer–Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
IA 233 World literature is one of many humanities and social sciences electives that undergraduates choose from in order to graduate in a STEM field. One way I attempt to engage these students is highlighting the occasional engineer/scientist character or STEM concept in our readings. While these STEM-related textual moments are not our only topics of discussion, I emphasize them more than I would in another institutional context. In my presentation, I will talk about how such emphases can be used to engage and convince STEM students how imaginative literature can complicate ideas about value and professional behavior.

Game On: Using Video Games to Teach STEM Audiences Humanities Ideas
Justin Young–Trine University
Video games may be a new area of interest for some humanities departments, but it’s actually a useful vessel to bring STEM students to the humanities. Professor Young discusses how he uses his honors seminar in video games to talk about intercultural conflicts, LGBTQ issues, feminist critiques of media depictions, and more. All of this leads up to the annual Playing for Pets event that unites students from multiple classes in a very technical event that is grounded in some very traditional humanities ideas.

Integrating Literature & Problem-based Learning into First-Year Engineering Academy
Susan McGrade–Indiana Tech University
This presentation explains a classroom strategy designed to address STEM student resistance to liberal studies within a first-year composition class. This strategy presents students with a problem: determine the best American fiction of a particular year. The faculty member then guides students through literary research practices, and a formal call for proposal process. This strategy integrates problem-based learning (PBL) and general engineering industry concepts (problem solving, professional practices, and quality control) to guide literary research and analysis and continuously improve students’ written, oral, and visual communication (WOV) skills, as well as their abilities to understand new social, political, and economic contexts.

The Intersection of Humanities and the Engineering Design Process
Jamie Canino–Trine University
This talk will discuss the skills commonly associated with the humanities that are critical to good engineering design. An overview of the engineering design process will be provided which, hopefully, sparks group discussion that leads to a list of non-technical skills required for good engineering design that can be linked to specific steps in the engineering design process.

Taking the Temperature of the Humanities: Health & Sustainability of Humanities Programs and Classes
Trine University Humanities & Communication Faculty
This roundtable focuses on strategies for situating humanities courses as not only viable, but integral parts of a STEM-focused education. Additionally, this presentation will discuss strategies for making space for and growing humanities programs at STEM-focused institutions through on and off-campus marketing, community outreach and recruiting of students. The roundtable will close by inviting discussion from attendees about successful initiatives, programs, and strategies they have developed in their own institutional contexts.

Poetry & STEM
Cassandra Bausman–Trine University
This session will explore how to unite two seemingly disparate things: poetry and STEM-field sensibilities. We’ll consider how to best make poetry feel accessible to STEM-students and what forms best offer a familiar entry point into the poetry workshop environment. From formula poetry, constraint-based forms like the haiku, to the conceptual poetry of the Olipou school, we’ll locate and celebrate the mutually productive overlap between disciplines and approaches.