Alan Whiting - the Synthesis Project

Almost fifty years ago C. P. Snow wrote of two intellectual cultures, of scientists on the one hand and artists and workers in the humanities on the other; mutually ignorant and incomprehensible. I don't think the situation has gotten any better in the interim. But I know from personal experience that PhD students in, say, Medieval literature are neither uninterested in science, nor incapable of complex and rational thought. I also know scientists who are (for example) very good musicians. So in pursuit of the Liberal Education I propose The Synthesis Project:

Gather between a half-dozen and a dozen scholars/scientists, at the postdoc level, representing as many different disciplines; such as physics/astronomy, biology, history, literature; and have each teach the others his/her specialty. The project should run for a year (better, two) and have as a tangible result a book covering the various subjects, but written by someone other than the specialist: physics written by an historian, poetics written by a physicist, biology as understood by a sculptor.

The major result should be an understanding of the different ways of thought of the various disciplines, leading to a better way of teaching a subject to non-specialists.

I'll talk a bit about other details of the idea, but mostly I'd like your input. Should this be done? How many subjects and scholars? Which ones? Who should be recruited, and how? Where should this be done?

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