“That which We Call A Rose,” (“Rose”) is a multi-media performance-as-research project, with puppets and robots, that I devised with a diverse ensemble of undergraduates and professionals to explore questions about planetary nomenclature, climate change, and colonization. “Rose” explicitly challenges andro-and euro-centric hegemonies embedded in 21st century space exploration and invites its audiences to do the same. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) has become a popular pedagogy for K-12 education. Many K-12 STEAM programs claim to put art at the heart of STEM, but often prioritize science content over creative process, falling short of the potential that STEAM holds to foster lifelong learners and innovators who are curious, skilled, and literate across a variety of disciplinary and cultural boundaries. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), on the other hand, promotes a K-20 STEAM pedagogy that acknowledges the importance of facilitating young learners’ creative inquiry as well as the potential for mature artists to become equally-valued culture creators across arts, science, and social domains.
In this article, I use “Rose” as a case study to query the possibilities of implementing performance-as-research as an essential component of STEAM pedagogies. I examine the ways that artists can invite audiences across multiple social identities to join in processes of performance creation as a means of critical inquiry of STEM fields. The performance-as-research process encourages participant audiences to authentically engage in arts practices as a means of actively combatting social issues such as climate change, professional gender and racial inequity, and the colonialist traditions implicit to contemporary space exploration.