Writing Prompt 2


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

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

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).

Write a 1,400 – 1,800 word essay (around 6 pages) arguing your opinion for what the ideal relationship between art and science should look like. You may focus your opinion on the relationship you feel that your discipline of interest should maintain with the arts, or you may discuss the relationship between the arts and sciences, in general.

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? 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 arts a seat at the scientific table. Maybe you agree with Lehrer when he states that “[a]rt can make science better.”

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

Tip! Yo-Yo Ma and Jonah Lehrer do not argue the same thing. Their visions for the future of the arts and sciences are distinct. Please make sure to maintain a clear boundary between their voices, and do not allow their opinions to merge. Compare and contrast their 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. Should this comingling happen? If so, where, when, and to what end?