On September 15, 2017, director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech, Patty Raun, urged theatre teachers from around the world to reach out and build unusual partnerships with those in other disciplines–especially those in science and technology fields–and challenged them to have confidence in the importance of their multifaceted work. She noted that “as we move further into the 21st century it is becoming increasingly clear that the most urgent challenges facing our society are unfathomably complex and interconnected and they require both analytic and empathetic approaches.” Raun shared her first-hand experiences in transdisciplinary work and stressed the importance of adding the arts to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.
The talk set the tone for the annual Educational Theatre Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The conference theme, “The Rise of STEAM: Real World Theatre Education for the 21st Century,” was the topic throughout the three-day event. Raun’s 45-minute keynote address was delivered to an audience of approximately 400 theatre teachers and was available via live-stream to the 100,000 + members of the organization. The recorded keynote can be viewed on the EdTA YouTube channel.
While in Nashville, Raun also presented a three-hour master class and served as a panelist with Dr. Bob Root-Bernstein (author of Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People and physiology professor at Michigan State University) and Lucinda Presley, founder and executive director of the Innovation Collaborative.