The STEAM Challenge at Duke

The STEAM Challenge is back at Duke in 2015-2016!  STEAM is an interdisciplinary approach that bridges STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines with the Arts, humanities, and social sciences in meaningful ways. STEAM is rooted in the conviction that the challenging questions of the 21st century can only be answered through the integrated efforts of all disciplines working together. STEAM embraces and explores the idea that interdisciplinary critical thinking inspires innovative solutions.

Duke created a STEAM Challenge in 2013-2014 to foster an interdisciplinary approach bridging the STEM disciplines with the arts, humanities, and social sciences to find innovative solutions to issues of global importance.  The STEAM Challenge in 2013-2014 brought teams of Duke students, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, together to propose a project-based and interdisciplinary solution to a real-world issue presented to the participants.  Winning teams in the first STEAM Challenge at Duke received prize money, publicity, and important networking opportunities as selected by a panel of expert judges. 

2015-2016 STEAM Challenge

Building upon the success of the first contest, Duke is again supporting the STEAM Challenge in 2015-2016 with the focus on Digital Humanities.  The goal of the 2015-2016 STEAM Challenge is for participants to think about how the seemingly separate realms of information, computation, and engineering relate to and can enrich arts and humanities research and its expression. In a society where we have the potential to represent and mine our histories, libraries, galleries, and cultural objects for meaning and insight into the past, present and future; where topics like data leaks, surveillance, sousveillance, and help shape our understanding of ourselves in relation to others in thought, word and deed; where our inner lives are mediated by the data shadows, marketing algorithms, matchmaking sites and buzzfeed quizzes that reflect us back to ourselves as individuals and communities; and where our natural and built environments are becoming increasingly responsive and shaped by the demands and possibilities of global technoculture, we have the obligation and opportunity to share our expertise across art-science divides and find ways to live rich and empowered lives together in an increasingly info-mediated and technology-defined world.

The Challenge will run in the Spring of 2016, kicking off in December 2015 with participants forming interdisciplinary teams and submitting a brief Challenge application about their projects by January 20, 2016. The most compelling submissions that best meet the criteria and objectives of the Challenge–as determined by a panel of expert judges–will be invited to further develop their proposals over the spring term, and will participate in two back-to-back Challenge weekends in April 2016 –an unconference design sprint and a live pitch session–where the winning team will be selected.

The winning team will receive a prize of $10,000, second place will receive a prize of $3,000 and third place will receive a prize of $2,000. All winning teams will receive publicity and networking opportunities.

All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at Duke are encouraged to visit the STEAM website for more detailed information about the 2015-2016 STEAM Challenge.

Duke STEAM Challenge Resources


Duke Chronicle Article


2013-2014 STEAM Challenge Videos


Dr. Keith Whitfield

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Phone: (919) 660-0330