A&H Faculty Colloquium on 03/23

May 17, 2011 by Erin Scallorn

Ed.’s note: This post refers to the UT Dallas School of Arts & Humanities Colloquium at which Pamela Gossin presented.

Pamela Gossin’s presentation on what she has been pursuing began to pique my interest and raise some concerns for me regarding interdisciplinary studies and the importance of dissolving the lines between specific areas of study. With that said, a project that I have been pursuing for many years now is the question of where exactly science meets philosophy. I am very interested in the problem of organic vs. inorganic and rational beings vs. non-rational beings. In order to be able to study and explore those issues and topics, I need to have knowledge of the “hard” sciences including biology, physics and chemistry in addition to having the philosophical, critical thinking side of the story.

Gossin used the phrase, “Scientific humanist and humanistic scientist” to describe the big goal of her work. With that said, I appreciate her work and attempts to send out roots from literature into other traditionally unrelated departments. I find this useful especially for someone like myself, who is extensively trained in the humanities, but has only basic knowledge of the hard sciences since those were not my areas of focus. Additionally, I learned that traditionally in the hard science courses the “history of..” for example, is not typically taught. What I find most troubling about this is the fact that it is within the humanities that you learn how to think critically and communicate effectively. If a scientist knows the science, but cannot sufficiently put their ideas and findings on paper in a coherent, helpful manner, then we have a big problem. Most of the science journals I have read tend to be lacking a bit in this area, and I believe this is directly related to the lack of learning the “history of..” in the hard sciences. On the other hand, as I stated before, as a humanities student, I struggle because I know very little about the “science of..” when it comes to biology, chemistry and physics.

I appreciate professors and other professionals such as Pamela Gossin and their efforts in developing interdisciplinary studies. This is a movement that I hope to see continue to grow and develop in the future.