STEAM Matters for Sustainability

How to Cite

Horvath, A.-S., Löchtefeld, M., Heinrich, F., & Bemman, B. (2023). STEAM Matters for Sustainability: 10 Years of Art and Technology Student Research on Sustainability Through Problem-based Learning. Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education, 11(2), 1–33.


Students of art-based higher educational programs use artistic practices and academic methods to explore complex societal topics and produce artistic outcomes that embody new knowledge and insights. Universities have an essential role in helping to shape sustainable futures, and art-based research frequently explores complex and abstract topics, such as sustainability. In this paper, we provide reflections on 33 of the 127 undergraduate student projects we surveyed that concern sustainability over a period of 10 years at a problem-based learning (PBL) university as part of an Art and Technology degree program. Art and Technology is a STEAM education, where STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects are taught alongside artistic methods. Specifically, we investigate how students formulate sustainability problems within an art-based research framework by identifying the (1) themes within sustainability and art that were of most concern, (2) research aims of these projects within a PBL context, and (3) artistic and academic methods employed as part of the research process. Additionally, we provide select examples of the artistic outcomes of these student projects as evidence for how artistic methods and practices – by virtue of necessarily experiential work – can concretize the often abstract notion of sustainability, making it accessible to diverse student populations and the public.


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