Last Tuesday in class, we discussed the scientific revolution from the 16th century to the 18th century. Later in the evening, we had Professor Aaron Hanlon talked about the origins of royal society and origins of the novels which also took place in the same period. Prof. Hanlon began his lecture with the discussion on the liberal arts education at Colby. If we look at the distribution of the academic buildings, the sciences buildings are almost on the same side of the school, while the humanities ones are on the other side. This lecture was not the first time when I heard about this history of the distributions of campus buildings. As someone introduced about how women and men used to live on each side of the schools, this distribution seemed to fit with the contemporary anticipations on gender in the mid to late 19th century.
Two years ago in my Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society class, we spent nearly a month talking about the scientific revolutions and its implications for modern sciences. One topic that was especially impressive to me was how sexist and gender-biased sciences were during the early modern period. This bias was not only about the inequality between male and female in the field, but also a problem of the extreme masculine philosophy and understanding of science itself. Back to the Ancient Greek times, emotions were regarded as an intrinsic feature of women and as opposed to logical reasoning. This belief eventually became the main reason for excluding women from science. This sexist trend was a large part during the time of the scientific revolution, but it indeed expanded way beyond the science fields themselves. The discussion we had in class on contemporary public opinions on Margaret Cavendish back in time was a great example.
Back to the topic of interdisciplinarities of knowledge, Prof. Hanlon noted that the liberal arts education was not only about learning the factual knowledge, but also to bring together what worth for a free person and enable the persons and the society to be well-prepared. I hence began to think about my experiences with this Science, Technology, and Society major. I remember my first year at Colby, the STS seniors presented their senior projects to us, each approaching from completely different perspectives. An Economics double major student looked into how physics theories could be applied to marketing; an Environmental Policy double major studied the planning history of the Central Park in New York City; an English student explored the development of science fictions. This approach brings knowledge from different disciplines together and often times encourages new insights and provides new solutions to many problems. My take-away message from Prof. Hanlon’s lecture was therefore how the knowledge system has developed into the organization that we have today. While Prof. Hanlon expressed it through the study of literacy, it is very interesting for us students to think about how this interdisciplinarity is embedded with our college life and how it could be applied in reality.