Thursday, April 18, 2013

Minutes from our meeting [please change your phrasings if they are not totally correct, or add what I did not take note of]

Friday, April 12, 2013, 1-3 pm  Gilman 479
The Johns Hopkins University

TOPIC: how to bridge the sciences and the humanities at Hopkins?


Mathematics: Richard Brown
Public Health Studies:  Lisa Folda. Mieka Smart (absent)
Cognitive Science: Brenda Rapp, Géraldine Legendre (Linguistics) (absent)
Geography and Environmental Engineering: Erica Schoenberger
Biology: Karen Beemon
Biomedical Engineering:  Harry Goldberg (absent), Joel Bader (absent)
GRLL: Bill Egginton (Spanish) (absent), Jacques Neefs (French), Derek Schilling (French), Elisabeth Strowick (German) Kristin Cook Gailloud (French)
Department of Otolaryngology/ Peabody: Monica Lopez-Gonzalez
Physics and Astronomy: Bruce Barnett, Rosemary Wyse, Brice Ménard
Department of Chemistry: Paul Dagdigian, Kit H. Bowen
Department of Special Collections, The Sheridan Libraries, & Department of History: Earle Havens (absent)
Students with double majors/minors in GRLL and Science:  Richard Kumapaley   

Richard Brown: Points out the importance to teach students to learn how to formulate a written argument (many agree)

Jacques Neefs: what is the reciprocity of this undertaking – students from the sciences are interested in literature, but we cannot easily imagine the reverse. It is necessary to created bridges on both sides

Brenda Rapp: Stanford has made a strong commitment to the humanities

Addendum FYI: [  At Stanford, all incoming freshman are exposed to the humanities through the required Thinking Matters course.]

Richard Brown: our conversation can center on the topic of Beauty, for example: the beauty of electricity, of mathematics etc.
We could create a Seminar Series and consider the notion of “beauty”; Math is an art form

Jacques Neefs: There is a strong link between math and music in Ancient Greece

Richard Kumapaley (answering my question about whether the word beauty is relevant to young people): perhaps the word “creativity” is better; mentions that Erica Shoenberger’s class [Introduction to Engineering for Sustainable Development class?]  was appealing in that it presented problem solving and strongly encouraged creativity. Richard explains how he has learned from the variety of classes he has taken at Hopkins in order to construct his own thinking. [Richard won an award for an online teaching project in epidemiology]

Lisa Folda: praises Richard’s intelligence and  “anomalous” pattern

Monica Lopez-Gonzalez: Support is an issue: interested students are out there, but can we gain (financial and administrative) support?

Derek Schilling: brings up the fact that across the disciplines we engage in common forms of reasoning, but employ these to different ends with varying degrees of rigor. Humanists, and literary scholars in particular, are notorious for their reliance on inductive reasoning. They set forth conclusions that are not demonstrably true but merely "probable." What many would consider to be faulty logic (presence of confirmation bias & availability heuristic) is what allows literary scholars to connect texts poetically. One thing we could do to attune students to commonalities among our disciplines is to address, reflexively and through example, the forms of reasoning we most often put to use.

Kit H. Bowen: the world breaks into 2 parts, the physical on one side, mankind on the other. The latter part is small. Man is all about emotions (and not easy to grasp). That is why I am here

Richard Brown: how to sell this to the administration? We should show there is popular demand.

Water is an important issue one of the 5 university-wide “signature initiatives” (= individualized health, the science of learning, the institute for the American city,  global health, and water). We could integrate this into a Seminar Series.

Jacques Neefs: Elisabeth Strowick recently gave a talk on “Clouds in Goethe”  [A lecture on Goethe's attempt to 'understand' cloud formations and its implications for the literary discourse] at the Literature and Cosmology, hosted by the German program at the Johns Hopkins University.

[Entrepreneurship & Management Minor?]

Joel Bader: the topic could be ETHICS, an all-important in all fields today

Jacques Neefs: ethics is not the root of the problem, it does not encompass the whole field of inventing and creativity

Conclusion: we will continue this conversation on Friday May 3rd at 1pm in Gilman 75 this time  (food wine and will accompany us)

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