For many of us, summer is a time to tackle the stack of reading materials which has been building over the course of the academic year. It's also a time to reflect on the work we do.
Among the most compelling ideas that I encountered in my reading this summer were:
- Ryszard Kapucinski's reflections, in his book The Other, on the challenge and vital importance in our interconnected world of being able to engage and understand radically different points of view;
- The argument by the philosopher/scientist Lorenzo Magnani, in Morality in a Technological World that we must develop new approaches to ethics in response to the transformation of human life by technology; and
- A statement by Bill Gates to a Congressional committee that "now economic progress depends more than ever on innovation."
These interconnected ideas remind me that the modern world increasingly requires the qualities of intellect and spirit associated with the arts and humanities: the creativity that leads to innovation; the cosmopolitan capacity for understanding and communication across cultural divides; the courage and depth to consider the philosophic and ethical dimensions of our actions.
I am pleased to report that we begin the fall semester with positive developments in all three of these vital educational areas. Faculty members engaged in the Arts and Technology (ATEC) program played key roles in securing four major grants that feature innovative applications of technology to transform undergraduate education.
The creative arts have two new spaces - one devoted to music practice and rehearsal; and the other to visual arts studios and an art history classroom.
Our efforts to build international studies and foreign languages received a major investment from Hanyang University (Republic of Korea), our partner in establishing the new Global Communication and Leadership Institute.
Finally, our Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology received a special appropriation from the Texas Legislature to support the development of programs examining the value and values of scientific research and technological innovation.
These examples, combined with the extraordinary individuals who will be joining the faculty this fall, help explain the optimism that permeates the School of Arts and Humanities. These are challenging times educationally as well as economically, and we are helping to create a better future with a visionary curriculum that emphasizes disciplined creativity, cosmopolitan communication and philosophic depth.
Dennis Kratz, Dean
School of Arts and Humanities