Greetings from Chicago, where I am at the SSI2016 conference. What is SSI? It stands for SENCER Summer Institute, a summer conference designed for undergraduate professors to discuss how to make their science courses more engaging, and relevant. SENCER (Science Engagement for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities) is a community of professors who are committed to cross-disciplinary intentionality in their science classes. Science is, after all, a way of knowing and is very important for all our citizens to have a working knowledge of. And part of the large questions that we struggle with today requires a strong scientific foundation. And this year, one of the themes is integrating humanities and science. Because again, today’s major issues require a strong foundation in…..economics, politics, social science, geography, and communication (both written and oral). And Science. My challenge to you is to find a way to incorporate humanities, ANY humanities into your science classes, and to incorporate science, ANY science, into your humanities courses.
And if you aren’t teaching, my challenge to you is to name an issue and then dissect the issue into the various components that make that issue compelling….let’s talk Water for example. Did you know that over 2 million (or is it billion?) people don’t have access to this precious, life-giving resource? And it is getting scarcer. With depletion of aquifers for agriculture, and the inevitable climate change, water is quickly becoming a commodity. Also, we need CLEAN water to drink. Not to waste. How do we solve the problem of having enough water for everyone? It’s about engineering, geology, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, geography, politics, even religion and social norms. Other issues you might consider are things like the Economics of Food, the rise of Cancer in the Western World, and others.
We are living in a multidisciplinary world. Isn’t it time we recognized that in our educational system?