National Endowment for the Humanities' "Bridging the Gap between the Sciences and Humanities"
Past summer seminars:
"Science and Technology" St. Mary’s College, Maraga, Calif. SBU participants included Dr. Michael Chiariello, Dr. Rod Hughes, Dr. Anne Foerst.
"Life: Origins, Purposiveness, and Transformations," University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana. May 31-June 11, 2004. St. Bonaventure was selected, along with eight other colleges and universities, by the National Endowment for the Humanities for an intense 2-week seminar, for each of three years, fashioned by the Great Books curricula of St. John's and Notre Dame. Primary source readings from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Darwin, Harvey, Lucretius, Mendel, Schroinger, and Tennyson, among others were discussed by the 30 participants. St. Bonaventure University is devising a plan for the implementation of courses combining science and the humanities for 2003-2006. Michael Chiariello, Kevin Vogel and I composed the team that represented St. Bonaventure for the second of the three years this program was run. The 2005 conference is at St. Mary's of California.
St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland. June 1-June 13, 2003. St. Bonaventure was selected, along with eight other colleges and universities, by the National Endowment for the Humanities for an intense 2-week seminar fashioned by the Great Books curricula of St. John's and Notre Dame. Primary source readings from Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolomy, Copernicus, Dante, Descartes, Hobbes and Newton were discussed by the 30 participants. St. Bonaventure University is devising a plan for the implementation of courses combining science and the humanities for 2003-2006. Michael Chiariello, David DiMattio and I composed the team that represented St. Bonaventure for the first of the three years this program will be run.
| Bridging the Gap 2004 - Spring 2005 Report by Roderick Hughes & Kevin Vogel
Descriptive title for project:
"Summer 2004 Follow-Up Workshops to 'Bridging the Gap' Between Clare 102 and Clare 111." The 2004 seminar: NEH Workshop, "Bridging the Gap Between the Sciences and Humanities" Year Two, Location: The University of Notre Dame, Title: "Life: Origins, Purposiveness, and Transformations," May 30, 2004-June 11, 2004.
A narrative account of the project:
In 2002, then-dean Dr. Michael Chiariello submitted a grant proposal for St. Bonaventure University to join the Association for Core Texts and Courses proposed national endowment for the humanities project, "bridging the gap between the humanities and sciences: an exemplary model of core text education." This was the second of three requests for this three-year project. The concentration for the 2004 summer seminar was the Life Sciences.
Since a significant component in the Clare 111 course deals with reading, understanding, and critiquing studies, and one of the overriding goals in Clare 102 is to understand the methodology of general science, one way that this gap was to be bridged was to make the appropriate connections in the areas of inductive reasoning, (reasoning by analogy, causal arguments, and inductive generalizations), statistical fallacies, etc. A full list of the Clare 111 course goals in this area include:
Be conversant in the problems of gathering, understanding, and reporting of evidence
Be able to recognize and critique the various types of studies
Maintain a basic working knowledge of statistical correlation concepts
Understand the concept of a confounding variable
Be able to recognize, construct and assess arguments by inductive generalization
Be able to recognize, construct and assess causal arguments
Be able to recognize, construct and assess arguments by analogy
Be able to recognize, critique and employ the informal fallacies of hasty generalization, false cause and weak analogy
Understand and use the concepts of necessary and sufficient conditions
Understand and employ Mill’s methods as an inductive procedure for dealing with arguments
Recognize and assess various statistical fallacies
Another point of contact is in the area of definition. A portion of the Clare 111 course addresses the following goals:
Understand the different types of definitions
Understand the various philosophical approaches to constructing definitions
Be conversant in the problems that arise in composing definitions (loaded, too broad, too narrow)
The student’s understanding of definition and the problems involved in the construction of an adequate one is then tested with a writing assignment that calls for the drafting of a law or public policy statement. Recently, for example, students have been asked to craft a law regarding animal abuse. A section on definition becomes a necessary part of this assignment. Terms such as "animal," "abuse," "animal rights," etc., become more problematic than expected. Different approaches to defining, different types of definition and typical problems encountered in offering definitions would appear to be magnified for terms like "science," "hypothesis," "fact," "theory."
Clare 102 addresses these very terms in its first week in asking students to accomplish the following:
Explain the terms "hypothesis," "theory," "inductive reasoning," and "deductive reasoning."
What variables might a scientist measure when conducting an experiment?
Describe the scientific method in general; give a specific example of how you might apply the scientific method in your life.
Describe the roles of hypotheses, theories and predictions in the scientific method.
What was achieved:
Presumably the faculty both of Clare 111 and Clare 102, as well as students, benefit from these connections in different ways. The Clare 111 instructors gain a better understanding of currently used actual scientific techniques, historical scientific illustrations of problem areas for scientific methodology, the status of scientific theories, the role of facts (evidence) in scientific experimentation, etc. The Clare 102 instructors benefit from knowing the level of scientific literacy to expect of a student coming from the Clare 111 course, thus avoiding the repetition that sometimes leads to student complaints. Students benefit from a more obviously integrated core curriculum, where connections are explicitly made from one course to the next. It was argued that such connections were missing in the previous core curriculum. "Bridging the gap" here is a start in building in other natural connections and recognizing already-existing connections elsewhere.
The approach used:
The coordinators of each Clare course met with the team members to review the curriculum of that June’s seminar, and briefed the team members regarding their possible interest in the seminar material. Workshops led by seminar team members were organized for the interested core faculty. The objective was the integration of the core courses using specific core texts to address shared intellectual concerns. A draft schedule appears below:
Clare 102 Faculty
Prof. Kevin Vogel - Coordinator
Prof. Jim Miller- Biology rep.
Dr. Larry Wier - Chemistry rep.
Dr. David DiMattio -Physics rep
Clare 111 Faculty
Dr. Roderick Hughes, Coordinator
Dr. Russ Woodruff
Prof. Sandra Mulryan
Some emerging topics:
- The "White Can" Experiment as an intro to looking at things with a critical eye
- A communal dissection/accompany with position papers on animal rights
- A critique of the “scientific method” within the section on experiments/correlation studies/case studies
Some accessible readings:
All of these have been used in Clare 111 and Clare 102 Courses
- Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (selections) — position paper on the value of older scientific views…or…presenting science in poetry
- Hardy, Selected Poems — position paper on determinism and mechanistic view of humans
- Darwin, Origin of Species (selections) — position paper on Darwin’s "evidence"
- Watson and Crick, "A Proposed Structure for DNA" — position paper on the manipulation of DNA
Current ideas in the works for bridges
- "Art of Science"
- Aesthetics of science—model building
- Scientists and humanists lecture series on the relevance of science
- Common writing component
The plan for the Spring semester of 2006: Prepare syllabi for “hardwiring” some sections of Clare 102 and 102L (Core Science course) to Clare 111 (Core Composition & Critical Thinking II course) for the Fall semester, 2005. These two courses will be taught by the three instructors back to back in the morning with an afternoon lab.
Prepare the presentation for the 2006 ACTC meeting in Chicago regarding the above project.
Additionally, some instructors have already begun to use readings from the NEH seminars in these science and writing courses. For example, Roderick Hughes is using a large portion of Origin of the Species, especially those sections where Darwin replies to objections, the Copernicus Letter, and sections of Euclid’s Elements in his Composition & Critical Thinking courses. Kevin Vogel has incorporated the "White Can" experiment from the Year II seminar in his Natural Science labs. He is also using the paintings of Dali on Crick and Watson in the science course. Other instructors have begun to introduce a few of the readings into sections of these same courses.