The Hidden and Essential Narrative: Language and Visual Art as Learning Tools in STEM

  • Helen HarrisonEmail author


Science and art are often viewed as highly disparate fields. However, just as science explores and questions the nature of life, art offers an equally powerful inquiry into the forces that shape our world and the human experience. Unknown to many, science is inherently creative and rich with narrative and personal connections. The arts have the potential to make the stories, impact and intrinsic beauty of scientific research more visible and approachable for other scientists and the public, especially in areas such as medicine and disability. Using the theoretical framework of “Narrative Medicine” developed by Dr. Rita Charon, MD of Columbia University, this study aims to generate three pieces of visual art as a response to the work of three scientists at the University of California, Berkeley who study the underpinnings of disabling psychiatric and neurological diseases. The aim of this project is to use artistic expression as an educational tool to make the creative and emotional process of science, and an understanding of neurological disabilities, more accessible for people from different backgrounds. Using the three tenets of Narrative Medicine “attention, representation, and affiliation” (Charon 2006) to guide the translation of this research into art, the scientists will be interviewed to explore the premise of their research and their feelings and personal connections toward the implications and goals of their work (attention). Then, they will choose a meaningful image generated during the course of their research that is representative of these qualities, which the artist will translate into a painting that exemplifies scientist’s interview responses (representation). The completed paintings will be presented alongside a short summary of the research and scientists’ personal connections as a means of increasing the visibility and understanding of these projects, the subjective experiences of the scientists, and the experience of disability for a broader and mostly non-academic audience (affiliation).

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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