October 13, 2021
Matthew Burgos

How science and creativity can work in tandem—and the importance of failure in both

“Lighting the Spark—Science and Creativity,” part of WPI’s ongoing Critical Conversations series, was held September 28 during Arts & Sciences Week. The session examined the relationship between two seemingly contrasting disciplines in a panel discussion moderated by School of Arts & Sciences Dean Jean King and Joseph Aguilar, assistant teaching professor of humanities and arts.

“What I love about the Critical Conversation series is its interdisciplinarity,” says King. “I think that’s why it works so well: We bring together panelists and guests with varied perspectives, and together we expand the conversations around some of the most pressing issues of our time. This particular discussion was even more exciting, as it paired science and creativity and challenged the way people think of them separately and together.”

The panel included Carissa Olsen, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Stacy Shaw, assistant professor of social science and learning sciences and technologies; and Joshua Rosenstock, professor of arts, communication, and humanities, who together discussed such issues as “Are scientists creative?” and “Can you truly integrate the arts and sciences?” Each brought a distinct perspective to share and reflect upon, and all agreed that failure—whether in the lab or in artistic endeavors—is needed to facilitate success: Failure is an opportunity for learning, in the realm of both science and creativity.

Watch the hour-long session here.