Writing Prompt 2


Yo-Yo Ma’s “Necessary Edges: Arts, Empathy, and Education

Jonah Lehrer’s “The Future of Science…Is Art?

Steven Pinker’s “ScienceIsNotYourEnemy

Yo-Yo Ma’s essay, “Necessary Edges: Arts, Empathy, and Education,” argues that education needs to shift its emphasis from STEM to STEAM. He uses ecological metaphors to explain the importance of establishing equilibrium between the humanities and sciences and calls for a “new consciousness,” one that integrates the critical with the empathetic, the emotional with reason. In “The Future of Science … Is Art?” Jonah Lehrer takes things one-step further when he writes, “Science needs the arts. We need to find a place for the artist within the experimental process…” (The stress is his). Finally, Steven Pinker’s “Science is not your Enemy” describes a science under assault from both the left and the right. He pushes back against accusations that science can be reductionist and challenges Ma’s narrative when he argues that our moral and spiritual values come, in a large part, from science.

Please write a 1,250 – 1,500 word essay (around 5 pages) arguing your opinion for what the ideal relationship between art and science looks like inside your projected career path or current discipline. Focus your opinion on the relationship you feel that your discipline of interest should maintain with the arts. Strive to be as specific as possible.


Consider the following while you write: Do you feel there are limits to Ma’s integrated approach? Do you feel that there is a potential danger in mixing artistic insight with hard science? Do you feel that the arts threaten the scientific process? For example, maybe you believe that art for art’s sake is important or that science can work without the humanist or societal perspective. On the other hand, maybe you see the benefit of giving the arts a seat at the scientific table. Maybe you agree with Lehrer when he states that “[a]rt can make science better.” If so, how can art benefit your studies at UNE or your future career?


Remember: This is your argument, your voice in the conversation. Use Ma, Lehrer, and Pinker to serve your vision. Each summary, paraphrase, and quote should either advance, support, or complicate your own argument or claim.


Free tips! 1) Work to develop your own angle. Please do not feel that you must respond to every question above. Stake out a position inside the prompt’s parameters and go for it! 2) These are difficult essays! They do not offer a one-sided, for-or-against argument, and that’s OK! Keep in mind that these authors express nuanced opinions that at times overlap and at times diverge. 3) You are welcome to compare and contrast all three arguments, but do not allow this comparing and contrasting to overtake your essay. Remember, this essay should ultimately center on your opinion: How you feel about the sciences comingling with the arts inside your projected career path (or discipline)? Should this comingling happen? If so, where, when, and to what extent?