Innovative Curriculum Synthesizes Arts and Sciences

May 29, 2008 11:36 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
The New Humanities Initiative developed by Binghamton University presents a curriculum that combines the humanities and sciences.

30-Second Summary

The New Humanities Initiative, a program being developed by two professors at Binghamton University in New York state, would attempt to bridge the gap between science and the humanities across various disciplines, including history and business.

The proposal comes 50 years after English physicist and novelist C.P. Snow presented a lecture called “Two Cultures,” which confronted the hostile divide between scientists and literary scholars.

Some “believe that the cultural chasm can be bridged and the sciences and humanities united into a powerful new discipline,” according to The New York Times. Others doubt the ability of either literature or science to survive on its own.

An article in the Boston Globe questioned whether the study of literature has become irrelevant over the past decade. The author believes that “literature professors should apply science’s research methods” and “embrace science’s spirit of intellectual optimism.”

The University of Pennsylvania examined the ability of scientists to articulate research in words. “If scientists have trouble explaining their work to nonscientists, how long will our society continue to support cutting-edge research—and what are the consequences?” asked the University.

Meanwhile, some institutions and educators have already been touting a more inclusive curriculum.

At a 2007 conference called “Promoting the Liberal Sciences: Science as Liberal Education,” university teachers and administrators discussed interdisciplinary approaches to teaching science, such as “studying biology through science fiction films.” Such programs have proven successful at Susquehanna University and Austin College. 

Headline Links: A necessary marriage?

Background: Educators explore the link

Related Topics: The great divide

Opinion & Analysis: The decline of literary criticism

Reference: A collaborative alliance


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