5 STEM classes every fine arts major should take (USA Today)

If you are majoring in the fine arts, your class schedule likely includes art history courses, as well as studio and theory classes in your specific field. Learning about and creating art is a time-consuming process, and it can be challenging to take other courses that are not specifically required to fulfill your degree. However, taking classes outside the arts — particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) — can actually complement your major. It can also broaden your horizons and skills, making you more employable. Here are five courses that you should consider completing during your college career: 1. Introduction to Calculus Many college students cringe when they hear the word “calculus.” Though it may sound difficult, the basis of calculus is relatively simple: change. For instance, calculus can help you visualize changes in the velocity, speed and acceleration of a moving object, such as a car or an airplane. Before you argue that art and math are unrelated, consider this: a scale is a type of function. Thus, calculus is an especially helpful topic for students specializing in music, dance or theater. Completing an introductory calculus class will provide you with a general understanding of concepts that can help you improve your art. 2. Introduction to biology Biology is the study of living things — including animals, humans, plants, etc. Those students who are focused on visual and/or kinesthetic concentrations (like dance, drawing, painting, and theater) can especially benefit from incorporating biology into their college studies. How? An introductory biology course is a great way for fine arts students to develop a deeper understanding of the structures and systems of living things. For instance, if you’re a painter, understanding how organisms’ bodies appear and function may help you better render them on a canvas. If you’re a dancer or an actor, understanding the nuances of the human body may make you a better performer. 3. Introduction to physics Simply put, physics is the study of matter and motion. This includes concepts like sound, heat and electricity. For students in the fine arts — particularly those in dance, music or theater — studying physics can be extremely useful. Understanding the physical science of sound, or acoustics, can enhance your conception of such music-centric disciplines. Since physics is closely linked to calculus, it may be wise to enroll in an introductory calculus class prior to taking physics. 4. Introduction to applied mathematics Applied mathematics teaches college students how to use math in practical contexts. Students learn how specific mathematically — and statistically — reliant technologies actually work. Such technologies run the gamut from personal electronic devices to complex computer clusters used by large institutions like hospitals and universities. Technology is now used in many aspects of artists’ lives, from electronic art tablets to state-of-the-art sound equipment. Taking an applied mathematics course can help fine arts students maximize these innovations. 5. Introduction to web design The students who enroll in web design classes are often computer science majors or minors. These students must learn how to use and write code in order to design and program websites. However, artists can also benefit from taking an introductory web design course. As mentioned in the previous section, technology permeates artists’ lives. A large part of being a successful artist is making your name known publicly. Modern artists who know how to create and manage their own personal websites can thus put themselves ahead of the curve when it comes to self-promotion.