Literary scientific theory

September 5, 2013

David Aberbach’s arguments for cross-disciplinary study are compelling, but apply beyond the humanities: scientists should read literature, too (“A taste of Hard Times”, Opinion, 22 August). Our graduates must justify their science to society and to themselves, and can draw upon literature, philosophy and theology to do so. Ecological science, for example, can tell us how to conserve species, but the bigger question is why should we? Answers to that come as compellingly, and more eloquently, from the words of John Clare, Peter Singer and the Book of Job than from the pages of Nature. Our responsibilities as teachers include encouraging our students to ignore bogus subject boundaries and to find inspiration across disciplines.

Mark Huxham
Edinburgh Napier University

 

More than 20 years ago, I completed my first degree in interdisciplinary human studies at the University of Bradford, where philosophy, literature, sociology and psychology were taught alongside each other and accorded equal weight in their ability to shed light on social problems. During that course, to give just two examples, I learned a great deal about the philosophy of science from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and about post-colonialism from the novels of Nadine Gordimer. David Aberbach doesn’t appear to see any role for female writers in influencing future political leaders: this hardly seems like progress.

Andrea Capstick
University of Bradford

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Clerical Exam & Assessment Officer UNIVERSITY OF GREENWICH
Professor in Music and Performance UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES
Professor in Design UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES
Professor of Storytelling UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest