Why the Sciences and Liberal Arts Belong Together

Many of the reviewers of The Philosophical Breakfast Club have remarked upon one of the points I make in the book, that science and the rest of culture should be knitted back together, more as they were in the 19th century. In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education there is a very interesting article that addresses this issue, arguing that liberal arts and science belong together as part of a well-rounded college education.

The authors note “Science matters at a liberal-arts university because the problems facing our global community will not be solved by scientists alone.” In making this point, they agree with my claim that there needs to be better communication of scientific discovery to the general public.

Discussing a symposium on the issue held at Boston College’s Institute for the Liberal Arts, the authors tell us that “A common theme throughout the symposium was the need for more scientists to better communicate the importance of ‘big science’ and the implications of its findings to the public….In our environmentally and economically challenged, highly technological world, it is crucial that we improve our ability to understand and critically evaluate scientific evidence and arguments. One way to do so is through partnerships between faculty in the natural sciences and faculty from disciplines like journalism, economics, sociology, political science and philosophy. Together they can develop ways to communicate knowledge about technology and the sciences in an accessible and compelling manner, and to explain the broader relevance of scientific discovery to society.”

The piece can be read here.


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About the Author

Laura J. Snyder, Ph.D., is a science historian, philosopher and writer whose most recent book, The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends who Transformed Science and Changed the World, was an Official Selection of the TED Book Club, a Scientific American Notable Book, and winner of the 2011 Royal Institution of Australia Poll for Favorite Science Book. It was also named an "Outstanding Academic Title" in history of science and technology by the American Library Association. Snyder is Professor of Philosophy at St. John's University in New York City and writes frequently about science and ideas for The Wall Street Journal. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Life Member of Clare Hall College, Cambridge, and Past President of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.

 She is currently working on a book about how new optical technologies in the 17th century revolutionized not only science, but also art and the rest of culture. Follow Laura Snyder on Twitter and Facebook.

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