Science & Humanities (was Teaching/Teacher's College)

Beth Shuster eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Jul 25 16:41:53 EST 1995

  My college application listed theater and genetics (in that order) as my
major interests.  Although I ended up majoring in biochemistry (the closest
thing to genetics on a small campus), I continued to take courses in
theater and other humanities depts.  I noticed the same thing that Susan
Forsburg did - the science students & profs were much more accepting of my
humanities interests than were the humanities students & profs of my
science interests (contrast finding my organic chem prof in line in front
of me at the tryouts for the main stage play with the students in the oral
interpretation class who made faces when I announced my major during the
obligatory introductions...).  And this was at a college which actively
promoted liberal arts in the strongest sense.  I shudder to think of the
attitudes of students at colleges and universities with programs that leave
no room for true exploration in the college curriculum.  
  It's too bad that more professors don't have the attitude espoused by my
1st semester physics prof - On the last day of class he ended by showing a
video of gothic cathedrals set to music by Bach after admonishing us to
remember that science and the humanities were inextricably intertwined.  He
also suggested taking a humanities course or two to see for ourselves.  The
other faculties that I've been associated with seem so intent on cramming
every fact related to their fields into their students' heads that they
forget that, at its best, an undergraduate education should broaden
horizons, as well as provide the depth needed for future education and/or
career plans.  All professors struggle with the issues of how to fit new
material into the undergraduate curriculum - especially in fields that are
moving quickly.  However, it's also important to take a hard look at the
existing material & to decide what can/should be dropped to make room. 
This is far easier to say than to do, I know! - however, students in the
humanities & sciences alike will only explore the "other side" if they a)
have the time in their schedules and b) are actively encouraged to do so!

Just my opinions,


Beth Shuster             
Univ. of California, Davis
e-mail: eoshuster at

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