The STEAM Journal Spotlight

The STEAM Journal's spotlight is designed to shed light on STEAM in the field.


SPOTLIGHT (The STEAM Journal: Vol 1. Iss. 1, 3/13/13 'Luminare')

The Spotlight article of the inaugural issue of The STEAM Journal is written by the President of Rhode Island School of Design(RISD), John Maeda. 

Maeda, John (2013) "STEM + Art = STEAM," The STEAM Journal: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 34. Available at:

In this first spotlight we are highlighting the work President John Maeda has been doing in cultivating dialogue and sparking national policy about STEAM. As a result of President Maeda's efforts and dynamic conversations with a multitude of policy-makers, practitioners, innovators, educators and many others, there is now a Bipartisan Congressional STEAM Caucus. 


About Rhode Island School of Design

Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (or “RIZ-dee” for the acronym RISD) is one of the oldest and best-known colleges of art and design in the U.S. Each year approximately 2,300 students from around the world pursue a creative, studio-based education at RISD, which offers rigorous bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in 19 architecture, design, fine arts and art education majors. The college is located in Providence, Rhode Island, which offers its own vibrant art scene and is conveniently located between two other major cultural centers: Boston and New York.

RISD has consistently upheld its mission to educate the public about the vital role of art and design in society. Today, the RISD community remains committed to the belief that the arts and design, in concert with fields like science and technology, will bring about the global innovation needed in the 21st century.

STEM to STEAM is a RISD-led initiative to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America. STEM + Art = STEAM. The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer. RISD President John Maeda and other members of the community have been championing the idea that STEM expands into STEAM when art is part of the equation.

RISD offers endless examples of how art and design education teaches the flexible thinking, risk-taking and creative problem solving needed to solve today’s most complex and pressing challenges – from healthcare to urban revitalization to global warming.


About the RISD's STEM to STEAM movement

The STEM to STEAM initiative, championed by RISD President John Maeda, is supported by teachers, researchers, policy makers, students, and businesspeople from RISD and beyond.

At the heart of the activity, a team of student research assistants works in the Office of Government Relations to apply their firsthand knowledge of Art + Design education to exploring new avenues for STEM to STEAM.

Learn more about the RISD STEM to STEAM movement here:


About President John Maeda

John Maeda is a leader who imagines how design can simplify technology and help leaders respond to new challenges in the era of social media. His work as a graphic designer, computer scientist, artist and educator earned him the distinction of being named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire.

In June 2008, Maeda became president of Rhode Island School of Design, and in late 2012, Business Insider named RISD the #1 design school in the world. At RISD, Maeda is leading the movement to transform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to STEAM by adding Art. Called the “Steve Jobs of academia” by Forbes, he believes art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century. Under Maeda's leadership, RISD has become a forceful advocate for art and design in the halls of Congress and the start-ups of Silicon Valley, and he has brought in a record number of six- and seven-figure gifts for scholarships.

Maeda serves on the boards of wireless HiFi company Sonos, global advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, and design crowdsourcing start-up Quirky; he is also a member of the Davos World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership.

As a designer, Maeda’s early work combined his expertise in software development with traditional artistic methods—laying the groundwork for the interactive motion graphics that are taken for granted on the web today. He has exhibited in one-man shows in Tokyo, New York and Paris, and his work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Cartier Foundation in Paris.

A former professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Maeda taught Media Arts and Sciences for 12 years and served as Associate Director of Research at the MIT Media Lab. He has published five books including The Laws of Simplicity (2006), now translated into 14 languages. @johnmaeda was picked as one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012 by TIME Magazine, and his latest book, Redesigning Leadership (2011, with Becky Bermont) expands upon this Twitter feed.

Maeda also serves as a trustee of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, a member of the TED Brain Trust, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers' Design Council, and Proctor & Gamble’s Design Advisory Board. He has designed commercial projects for corporations such as Cartier, Google, Philips, Reebok and Samsung, among others. In 2001 Maeda was awarded a National Design Award in the US; in 2002, the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan; and in 2005, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany. In 2009 he was inducted into the New York Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame and he received the AIGA Medal in 2010.

A native of Seattle, WA, Maeda earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT, followed by a PhD in Design Science from the University of Tsukuba Institute of Art and Design in Japan and an MBA from Arizona State University. 

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