Session Type

Presentation

Room

PAB 150

Start Date

11-7-2013 1:30 PM

Keywords

liberal arts, curriculum, vocational training, nature and purpose of education, biochemistry

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

One now routinely learns of a university theatre department closed here, a philosophy department closed there, of budget pressure that has forced the cancellation of this language program, or how funding cutbacks have permitted that fine arts department to continue to function, but only with sessional faculty. The sciences (of course?) have been largely spared. But how ought science faculty to respond to the philosophical questions involved in the cultural squeeze on their colleagues? Herein I argue that science faculty ought to be as outraged as they are: what is at stake is the cultural understanding of the meaning and purpose of all education. Will the university devolve into an institution whose purpose is entirely vocational in character? Probably most students already regard it as such, as do some faculty. Using examples from my own discipline – biochemistry – I develop the thesis that to increase emphasis on the epistemological, cosmological, natural historical, and humanistic elements of science disciplines is a defense of education as more-than-training, a partial corrective to the erosion of the liberal arts tradition, and, indeed, an enrichment of the science curriculum itself.

Media Format

flash_audio


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Jul 11th, 1:30 PM

Biochemistry as a Liberal Art

PAB 150

One now routinely learns of a university theatre department closed here, a philosophy department closed there, of budget pressure that has forced the cancellation of this language program, or how funding cutbacks have permitted that fine arts department to continue to function, but only with sessional faculty. The sciences (of course?) have been largely spared. But how ought science faculty to respond to the philosophical questions involved in the cultural squeeze on their colleagues? Herein I argue that science faculty ought to be as outraged as they are: what is at stake is the cultural understanding of the meaning and purpose of all education. Will the university devolve into an institution whose purpose is entirely vocational in character? Probably most students already regard it as such, as do some faculty. Using examples from my own discipline – biochemistry – I develop the thesis that to increase emphasis on the epistemological, cosmological, natural historical, and humanistic elements of science disciplines is a defense of education as more-than-training, a partial corrective to the erosion of the liberal arts tradition, and, indeed, an enrichment of the science curriculum itself.