Center to Explore Technology’s Impact on Values

Classes and Lecture Series Broaden Role of Humanities at UT Dallas

Jan. 25, 2010

The University of Texas at Dallas has established a new center designed to help the public understand the complex, crucial role that technological innovations and scientific discoveries play in shaping the values of contemporary culture.

Funded with $5 million from the Texas Legislature, the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology will expand the role of the humanities at UT Dallas with:

  • Undergraduate classes, graduate seminars and public lectures that examine the philosophical, moral and legal ramifications that accompany advances in technology and scientific knowledge.
  • Interactive educational materials to teach students about the nature, value and cultural implications of technological advances.
  • Ethical and values component to scientific proposals and other grants by UT Dallas researchers.

“UT Dallas is the ideal place to foster the interaction of the humanities with science and technology,” said Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, where the center will reside. “This center is going to serve our students and the community at large as a source for explaining and contemplating the enormous changes that are taking place in society because of the pace of technology and scientific advancements.”

The center is presenting the “Incite Your Curiosity” lectures, with speakers who will address the relationship between creativity and technology from across the spectrum of human activity in the arts, business, engineering, science and education. All lectures are free of charge:

  • Nancy Nersessian, Thursday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m., Jonsson Performance Hall at UT Dallas. Nersessian's book Creating Scientific Concepts examines the cultural and cognitive mechanisms that lead to innovation.
  • Gregory Crewdson, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m., Dallas Museum of Art. Crewdson is best known for staging large cinematic scenes that result in surreal photos of American homes and landscapes.
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (pronounced “cheek-sent-me-high-ee”) Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., Jonsson Performance Hall at UT Dallas. Csikszentmihalyi is a major force in the field of positive psychology with his seminal theory of “flow,” the idea that people are most happy when completely absorbed in the task at hand.
  • Robert J. Sternberg, Thursday, March 11, 7:30 p.m. Jonsson Performance Hall at UT Dallas. Sternberg developed the Triarchic Theory of (Successful) Intelligence, which challenges the supremacy of IQ tests.
  • Raffaello D’Andrea, Thursday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. TI Auditorium, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Sciences. D’Andrea is an engineer and robotics expert, whose artful creations at the Venice Biennale and “intelligent” warehouses for retail giants such as Staples and Walgreens have captured the imagination of scientists, gallery-goers and business people around the world.

To help the center develop its courses and seminars for a broad audience – in particular, working adults interested in pursuing a master’s degree in the humanities – the University has hired historian Luis Martín as clinical professor of humanities and director of the Humanities Outreach program in the School of Arts and Humanities. Martín taught for 25 years at Southern Methodist University, where he held the first Edmund and Louise Kahn Endowed Chair in History. He helped SMU establish its popular Master of Liberal Studies degree program and he plans to do the same at UT Dallas. Martín strongly believes that the community surrounding UT Dallas is eager for adult education in the liberal arts.

“All you need here is a match to spark the flame,” he said. “UT Dallas really needs somebody who can connect the University with the local public libraries, the arts councils, the city governments and so on. I love the idea of being the humanist-in-residence — someone who spends his days thinking and talking to people about the human condition. What can I do to help make you a better person? That’s my passion.”

Magdalena Grohman, Ph.D., is the associate director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology. Grohman’s training as a psychologist was in creative thinking and problem solving. Before coming to UT Dallas, she taught seminars on creative-thinking techniques at museums and schools in the U.S. and in her native Poland.

“One of the center’s goals is to create educational materials so that teachers and students can learn how to transform their thinking and express their creative potential,” said Grohman. “I believe education is not so much about grade point averages as it is about transformation, the transformation of a student’s mind. It is asking question of not what a student can do with a certain major, but what learning about that major does to him or her.”
Media Contacts: Sarah Stockton, (972) 883-2155, sarah.stockton@utdallas.edu
or Meredith Dickenson, (972) 883-2155 or meredith.dickenson@utdallas.edu

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The University has hired historian Luis Martín as clinical professor of humanities and director of the Humanities Outreach program in the School of Arts and Humanities.   Luis Martin

 

Incite Your Curiosity Lectures

Gregory Crewdson (Wednesday, Feb. 3)

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