In his talk last Tuesday, Colby’s very own Professor Aaron Hanlon discussed both the origin of the Royal Society and the origin of the Novel. Throughout his explanation, Professor Hanlon not only outlined the independent value and influence of these two entities, but he also tied together many connections and overlap these two historical origins have had. He began his talk with a very classic image of Colby’s Miller Library, where he called attention to the functions that the buildings lining the green provide to the campus. On the one side of the green, you have Lovejoy, home to mainly humanities courses and majors: english, languages, history, etc. Then on the other side, you see Mudd, Keyes, Arey, and Olin; home to Colby’s science departments. This physical divide between the two fields was especially interesting to Professor Hanlon’s audience, as many of us are students of Science, Technology, and Society; one of the most interconnected fields of studies here at Colby. Furthermore, we are studying at a liberal arts school, institutions that generally argue for the value of interdisciplinary study at the undergraduate level. While the arts still appear to be the lesser priority of liberal arts institutions like Colby, we still have this broad based of idea of this interdisciplinary nature, despite some contradictory aspects throughout the physical layout of the campus.
Professor Hanlon used this as an introduction to bring forward the idea that these fields of study all work and belong together, which is something I would definitely agree with. Throughout my time and the different courses I have taken here at Colby, I have found it helpful to think with the interdisciplinary lens that the STS major has provided me with. Especially considering the realm of environmental issues, for example, successful solutions require a full picture strategy that accounts for the scientific, technological, and social implications of the problem. This realm, I would argue, is one of those specific cases that embodies the balance that the arts, humanities, and sciences create when together.
The specific case that Professor Hanlon considered, as I mentioned above, was the potential relationship between the creation of the Royal Society and the Novel. In his research of these two origins, Professor Hanlon worked to answer the question “Is there a relationship between these two events?” The Royal Society was founded around 1660 with the goal of growing experimental sciences. Shortly after it’s formation, the novel was then created around 1666, prompting the question: was this a coincidence? Or was there some sense of a relationship between these two events given that they’re happening around the same time? This pulls in the same introductory idea, wondering if this interdisciplinary-ness began before institutions like Colby, and if it came specifically from the origin of these two things? At first I wondered if Professor Hanlon was stretching this argument slightly, but he provided a clear outline of the similar influences and connections between the two events. I agree with Professor Hanlon that the value in interdisciplinary-ness was recognized before institutions like Colby, but I still wonder if this really was the origin of its value.