Humanities and STEM Can and Should Get Along Better

In my lit and writing classes, I regularly encounter STEM students who are frustrated because I won’t deliver a lecture that tells them “what the poem means” and then give them points for spitting back the “correct answer.” Likewise, when I teach a math unit in my journalism class, I regularly encounter word-oriented students who are frustrated by the specificity of numbers. Truth be told, some of my “your petty…

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STEM Education Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

I love STEM. My SAT score for math was exactly the same as verbal. When I was in grad school, struggling with Sausserian semiotics and Beowulf in the original Old English, I taught myself C++, Turbo Pascal, and Java for fun. For some project I was coding I learned how to do 3D matrix transformations so that I could simulate light bouncing off of a solid surface. I had part-time…

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What’s an environmental issue? — Gus Speth

I don’t know the provenance of this quote attributed to Gus Speth, which affirms the role of the humanities in a STEM-obsessed world, but I did find this interview, conducted by Steve Curwood. “You know, what’s an environmental issue?” And if the answer is air pollution, water pollution, climate change…then we’re really right where we’ve been. But what if an environmental issue is something that has a big effect on…

Consciousness: Where Are Words?

Words, words, words. With the advent of the stream of consciousness in twentieth-century literature, it has come to seem that the self is very much a thing made of words, a verbal construction forever narrating itself and reconstituting itself in language. In line with the dominant, internalist view of consciousness, it is assumed that this all takes place in the brain—specifically, two parts known as Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area…