Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The zeitgeist

It looks like the Snarkmarket guys aren't the only ones thinking about new liberal arts. (Which is no surprise, really.)

Mark Taylor writes in the NYT about the need for a new University. (Although it sounds to me at times that he's often just looking for a new organizational structure—there's not much that talks about changing the way scholars teach, or desired outcomes, particularly for undergraduates.)

Taylor asks us to:
Consider, for example, a Water program. In the coming decades, water will become a more pressing problem than oil, and the quantity, quality and distribution of water will pose significant scientific, technological and ecological difficulties as well as serious political and economic challenges. These vexing practical problems cannot be adequately addressed without also considering important philosophical, religious and ethical issues. After all, beliefs shape practices as much as practices shape beliefs.

A Water program would bring together people in the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences with representatives from professional schools like medicine, law, business, engineering, social work, theology and architecture. Through the intersection of multiple perspectives and approaches, new theoretical insights will develop and unexpected practical solutions will emerge.

Sounds like a good idea to me. Or perhaps, a fourth year organized around questions of food?

The Chronicle of Higher Education also presents evidence that "Digital Humanities" scholars are more likely to collaborate on publications than "traditional" scholars.

The New Liberal Arts are already out there. Our task is to organize, name, and continue to work.

No comments: