Why You Should Take an Art History Class (Coming from a STEM Major)

By Fiona Rose Beyerle

Entering university gives many students the opportunity to do something they have not been able to do before: pick classes that interest them.  Although this can be daunting considering how few electives you can take, especially in majors that often require a lot of classes, consider taking a class you most likely have not considered before, I recommend Art History: the study of art movements, and works across time in relation to society, history and politics.  Taking Art History classes can be a special way to expand your horizons academically and in life.  Personally, taking Art History classes has taught me to dig deeper into how things are, such as why buildings look a certain way, why people want to portray themselves a certain way, and why we should pay attention.  

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

How Does Art History Relate to my STEM Major? 

Art is the intersection of science and math.  As a biology major, I take a lot of physics, calculus, chemistry, biology, etc. As unrelated as the subjects seem at first, science and math have influenced art for centuries (Fibonacci sequence anyone?!).  Having a background knowledge in math and science has given me new appreciation for several works of art.  On top of that, Art History provides me with an excellent education in skills you do not necessarily get to practice in a STEM course such as writing, visual analysis and creativity.  These skills will no doubt prove to be an asset to your STEM education as it can help you stand out among your peers as a well-rounded person.

What do you do in Art History classes? 

Generally, Art History courses are organized by movements such as Impressionism, Baroque, Classicism, etc.  You will then study key artists, pieces and history surrounding the time period and region where it primarily took place.  The best way that I have ever heard Art History classes described was by a friend’s sister.  Art History class was, to her, “like going to a museum every day”.  As beautiful as it is to look at a class this way, I find this to be incredibly true.  Art History gives you the opportunity to analyze and discuss art works every day, which isn’t very prevalent in other courses.  As far as the workload goes, you will generally write a few papers, have lots and lots of reading, and have a few exams.  However, as long as you do the readings and plan out your essays ahead of time, Art History classes are generally quite manageable, and can be a nice way to balance out a STEM heavy schedule. 

Photo by Deeana Creates on Pexels.com

Why is Art History Important?

There is so much more to Art History than just looking at paintings in old museums.  Art History is crucial for learning about historical events and cultures, and provides a framework to be able to think critically about the endless amounts of images we see every day, from ads to art itself.  By studying Art History, you will not only gain skills valuable for the workplace, but also be able to look at your own coursework in a new way itself.  

Where do I begin learning about Art History?

If you are interested in taking an Art History class but are not too sure yet if you want to dedicate a few months of your life taking a class, I recommend looking into Khan Academy’s Art History lessons.  These videos and articles provide an excellent starting structure for those desiring to begin learning about Art History.  From there, I would recommend starting with an Art History survey class to gain an overview into the Art History world.  Learning Art History can be a fun way to familiarize yourself with the art and architecture around us and gain new appreciation for the world!  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s