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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24988.
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Epilogue

The Einstein quote that opens this report suggests that a tree and its branches serve as a metaphor for thinking about the integration of arts, engineering, humanities, mathematics, medicine, science, and technology because the vitality of the whole depends on the combined force of the parts. The trunk of the tree represents the core strength of the disciplines in higher education—the centralizing force that directs students through

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© 1978 by Robert Berks.
Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24988.
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the course of academic study. Yet the branches—where Einstein located religion, arts, and sciences—could also be seen as the locations for integration, as they move away from the trunk yet remain integrally connected to the core strengths of the whole. Most importantly, the branches create opportunities for trees to connect to each other. In a forest, the canopy of intersecting branches connects distinct units. In this metaphor, it is the connections between branches and trunk (and roots), rather than the singular strength of any one part, that make the tree healthy and viable.

The statue of Einstein on the grounds of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine faces the National Mall, not far from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Reflecting Pool. Immediately behind the statue is a small grove of trees, which provide some shade in the summer (and backdrops to countless photographs of visitors sitting on Einstein’s lap). These trees provide a fitting image for this study of integration, for it is the connections between the flourishing branches, rather than the spindly trunks, that creates the canopy that provides both shade in the summer and viability in poor weather. Thinking about integration as the connections between branches transforms Einstein’s metaphor—as well as the setting of his monument—into a meaningful guide for future action.

Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24988.
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Page 181
Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24988.
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In the United States, broad study in an array of different disciplines —arts, humanities, science, mathematics, engineering— as well as an in-depth study within a special area of interest, have been defining characteristics of a higher education. But over time, in-depth study in a major discipline has come to dominate the curricula at many institutions. This evolution of the curriculum has been driven, in part, by increasing specialization in the academic disciplines. There is little doubt that disciplinary specialization has helped produce many of the achievement of the past century. Researchers in all academic disciplines have been able to delve more deeply into their areas of expertise, grappling with ever more specialized and fundamental problems.

Yet today, many leaders, scholars, parents, and students are asking whether higher education has moved too far from its integrative tradition towards an approach heavily rooted in disciplinary “silos”. These “silos” represent what many see as an artificial separation of academic disciplines. This study reflects a growing concern that the approach to higher education that favors disciplinary specialization is poorly calibrated to the challenges and opportunities of our time.

The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education examines the evidence behind the assertion that educational programs that mutually integrate learning experiences in the humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) lead to improved educational and career outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students. It explores evidence regarding the value of integrating more STEMM curricula and labs into the academic programs of students majoring in the humanities and arts and evidence regarding the value of integrating curricula and experiences in the arts and humanities into college and university STEMM education programs.

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