Friday, September 5, 2014

Bridging the gulf of mutual ignorance

(click on image to enlarge)
Intersections of diametrically opposed disciplines
Watercolour, marker and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

Half a century ago, C.P. Snow said the ‘two cultures’ of scientists and artists were separated by a gulf of mutual ignorance.

Traditional separation of art and science disciplines at universities has resulted in degrees that are ‘knowledge silos’ producing graduates with a deep, but narrow, expertise, prepared only for highly structured specializations.

Given that breakthrough scientific developments and innovation are often seen to occur at the intersection of disciplines, most universities have developed interdisciplinary programs. 

Unfortunately, the disciplines selected are often closely related, and the bodies of intersecting knowledge are not so much complementary as overlapping and redundant. I think that the intersections of diametrically opposed disciplines would be most likely to be productive. Graduates need to be able to see problems from other, often divergent, perspectives and they have to be able to communicate with previously-mentioned experts in narrow, highly specialized disciplines.