When: March 25th and April 2nd, 2017
Where: Cambridge, MA, USA
Institution: Harvard University
Facilitators: Doris Sommer, and Antonio Copete
As part of the new Latin America on STEAM initiative, Prof. Doris Sommer and Dr. Antonio Copete led a Pre-Texts workshop at Harvard University, tailored specifically for work with scientific and technical texts. Participants represented a diverse set of Latin American countries and professional backgrounds, from Art History and Design to Plant Biology and Astrophysics, and experienced some of the enormous potential of introducing arts-based methodologies to the study of technical disciplines, or the so-called STEAM approach.
On the first day of the intensive 2-day workshop, participants worked with the introduction to Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, coming up with a set of creations ranging from abstract visualizations of outer space to Vallenato songs. The second day brought a more challenging and highly technical text, a Nature Reviews scientific article on the human microbiome and its association with a wide range of medical conditions. Still, through a combination of artistic activities including sculpture, photography, drawing, audio recording and gaming, participants developed an understanding of both the big-picture processes described in the text, as well as some of its challenging technical terms.