Stages of Discovery: Revolutions in Art and Science was a full-time lower-division program designed to introduce students to the tools artists and scientists use to investigate our world. We read contemporary plays about science in order to begin to think comparatively about what art and science have to offer each other in the 21st century. We studied primarily theater and musical forms of art, and our study of science focused on quantum physics.
Students were asked to develop a good working knowledge of the investigative methods used by artists and scientists, and to work deliberately on improving their written and oral communication skills. Students spent the first half of the quarter attending regular lectures, seminars, labs, and workshops. They also attended weekly skill-building workshops in either music, script-writing, or science. Students wrote a synthetic critical essay and demonstrated their basic understanding of the concepts and history of quantum physics through homework assignments and on a take-home essay exam.
For the second half of the quarter, students worked collaboratively to design performances on a scientific topic of their choice based on a survey of scientific literature. The goals of this project were for students to hone existing skills and develop new ones, to learn to express their understanding of a topic through the medium of performance, and to explore the question: “What is the social and/or artistic function of a science play?” Students learned how to produce an annotated bibliography and documented their individual learning in artist’s and researcher’s statements. They worked with guest artist Rick Burkhardt to hone their performances, which they then presented to the program in the final week of winter quarter.
The reading, viewing, and listening list included: selections from Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality (Kumar); A Number (Churchill); Oxygen (Djerassi and Hoffman); Copenhagen (Frayn); Copenhagen (dir. Davies); movements from Symphony #40 (Mozart); movements from Piano Trio in G Major (Beethoven).