Holistic approaches are only possible once we have a society in which it is possible to have a dialogue between STEM and Humanities. The 21st-century workers require skills from both worlds for global successful innovations.
In this endeavor of merging both worlds towards more holistic world citizens, the University of Florida is a pioneer in the new curriculum for Materials Science and Engineering in US Universities. This new approach of introductory level classes open for all majors included combined weekly classes offered by a materials scientist and an anthropologist. The idea is to educate students that engineering shapes and is shaped by social and cultural variables. This effort lead by Prof K. Jones at the University of Florida has the support of both MRS Foundation and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.
While STEM professionals create new products and technologies to ensure the quality of life of the society, professionals from Humanities are the law makers that warranty the funding sources for STEM advancement and approve the necessary regulations. For instance, Dr Chong (former VP of Assembly, Factory & Support Technology, an organization within Boeing Research & Technology), pointed out during her talk at the Women in Materials Science & Engineering Breakfast that some of the innovations at Boeing came from a psychologist of their company that seated at the plane, and made suggestions of the needed implementations for a more pleasant experience. Those impressions were then translated into technological innovations.
At the same time, it is necessary for STEM professionals to understand the Humanities world so to ensure the dialogue towards successful innovation and the understanding within the society. I remember at my early years of undergraduate studies frequently use my imagination and science fiction to describe my "Imagine a world where..." so to explain my grandparents about the value and magic of the "nano world". The same strategy I use nowadays to inspire young kids towards STEM field.
There is no doubt that the connection of both worlds would benefit society towards an inclusive dialogue for a responsible advance of research and education. Find here some of the videos developed by University of Florida faculties for this new approach to teach how Materials Impact Society in a dialogue between both worlds. This initiative facilitates interdisciplinary talks between STEM and Humanities, paving the path for responsible research.
Similar efforts has been also part of the mission of the MRS Government Affairs Committee. Peer colleagues like Ashley White (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Damon Dozier (Materials Research Society) are some of our representatives within governmental science and technology policy in materials-related areas. Join them and make your voice matters through Materials Voice (available 24/7 at www.mrs.org/materials-voice) or by volunteering within this Committee.
I congratulate here MRS staff and MRS meeting organizers for so many activities at this MRS S16 Meeting towards MRS mission to “promote communication for the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life”. There is no doubt that MSE future should embrace a close dialogue between STEM and Humanities to achieve efficiently a sustainable and responsible globalized pathway in research and education.