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Friday, June 8, 2012

President Shirley Tilghman on Art and Science

Shirley Tilghman, President of Princeton University, was invited to speak on the Art of Science by the student group on campus, Music in Mind. In her talk, she described ways that artists and scientists were similar and shared similar ways of thinking. Having raised a sound engineer and art historian, and a molecular biologist herself, she shared with us eager students her thoughts on what is required in both art and science:

1. Creativity and imagination 
2. Seeing the world orthogonal to what is mainstream
Elizabeth Blackburn studied tetrahymena, the ends of chromosomes--an area few thought useful to study. She discovered the ends of these structures and won the Nobel Prize for her work. Similarly, the impressionists in art saw new ways of approaching art and representing the natural world. 
3. Intense observations
4. Trying to reveal something new in the natural world
5. Appreciation of beauty
Both artists and scientists try to make the world a better place by enriching the experience of being human. 

President Shirley Tilghman is a strong supporter of the Lewis Center for the Arts on the Princeton University campus. Recently, she gave a graduation commencement speech on the importance of a liberal arts education, citing the value of interdisciplinary perspectives on future innovation.