On one of my many daily Facebook scrolls one day, I discovered an article written by a English teacher who encouraged her STEM colleagues to incorporate novels into their curricula (and if I could find the article I would link it here, but I can't for the life of me remember what magazine it was in, but here's a similar one).
Regardless, the concept threw me for a loop. I'm an literature and language lover, so you'd think I'd be all over this. And I was. And I had thought strongly about the benefits of STEM people taking arts and humanities classes, but I hadn't thought much about them taking our practices and work and using it for themselves. And I don't mean that in a possessive way--more in an ignorant way.
But when I read this article I thought, well, why not use science fiction novels or technoscientific novels to teach about STEM? In my schooling I had already been finding the spaces where my technological and humanities knowledge could overlap. I learned just as much about binaries in dissecting the ethics of "Blue Beard" as I did in learning how 0s and 1s work in my computer science classes--they were just different. We already know the benefits of reading--like gaining empathy, widening your perspective, and learning about a different topics--and those wouldn't change with the shift to a STEM focus. Yet, not one of my STEM classes--from elementary school through to college--taught a novel.
Progression comes from exploring the intersections. Take wearable tech gadgets like FitBits, which are born out of the cross between fashion and technology and help wearers become more in touch with their fitness. Now extend extend that idea to something life-saving--like blood sugar monitors for diabetics. Combing both the need for aesthetic design and a functional health device, devices like the FitBit are the start of the intersectional instrumental future.
So let's teach novels in STEM classes. Let's find the crevices between the technology and fashion, between engineering and art, between health and literature. Let's carve those spaces to be deep and round. Stretching these boundaries will help us find the best solutions for today's problems.
Liz is a senior English major with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her research interests, like her areas of academic speciality, lie in the intersections between humanities and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with dogs.