Gregory A Petsko
Correspondence: Gregory A Petsko email@example.com
Genome Biology 2010, 11:138 doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-10-138
(2011-01-17 14:03) University of Exeter
As a philosopher of biology, I wish to offer thanks for this editorial and its inclusive
scope (literature, arts, humanities, social sciences). While it is addressed to a
specific situation in the US, the argument holds across the world, including the UK,
where a similar climate prevails. Education is structured differently here (someone
learning about biology from an undergraduate level onwards need never encounter any
subject outside biology again), but the same caveats about fickle fashions, shallow
knowledge bases, and the unpredictability of sources of scientific inspiration still
apply. It is unusual for a scientist to speak out so strongly for the arts and humanities,
and very encouraging to see that valuable insights from such a range of disciplines
can be put to work on the pages of a prominent scientific journal. A collaborative
goal for endangered and non-endangered disciplines might be to devise and foster teaching
practices that go beyond a traditional 'two cultures' perspective in education. Programmes
along these lines exist in North America, Europe and further afield. If the argument
of the editorial is correct, and I think it is, it is in everyone��s interests to
support such programmes before the extinction of stand-alone arts and humanities departments.
As a philosopher of biology, I declare a deeply vested interest in the continuation
of the humanities.
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