The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Re-Renaissance

Me Talk Funny
 The Re-Renaissance
The Re-Renaissance

The Re-Renaissance

In his book “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,” Edward O. Wilson explains how “in education the search for consilience is the way to renew the crumbling structure of the liberal arts. During the past thirty years the ideal of the unity of learning, which the Renaissance and Enlightenment bequeathed us, has been largely abandoned. With rare exceptions American universities and colleges have dissolved their curriculum into a slurry of minor disciplines and specialized courses.”

Consilience, as Wilson explains, is the interconnectedness and interdependence of all disciplines; consilience is the now forgotten coherence of the humanities, the arts and the sciences.

Today’s university and college, though hiding behind the mask of the liberal arts, are nothing more than glorified trade schools. In 20 years I suspect US News and World Report will be including ITT in their list of America’s top schools, for, as time will tell, the differences between UT and Peterbilt truck driving school are quickly disappearing.

In the United States, college students are expected to learn one thing and one thing only. While most schools have programs that require their students to take a handful of courses from disciplines outside their majors, these classes are usually meaningless.

For this reason, business students graduate with a fear of papers longer than four pages, art students leave not knowing how to operate a calculator and physics students leave not knowing how to function with the rest of society.

A student majoring in real estate finance, for example, will take a creative writing class or an anthropology class and see no connection between it and what he is studying elsewhere. Therefore, in most cases, the student will regard the class as a waste of time

We might attribute this to our capitalist society. A student’s decision to major in one thing or another no longer reflects his actual interests; rather, it reflects his desire to be marketable.

Going to school is no longer for the sake of education (perhaps it never was); going to school is job training. Students are trained to be assembly line workers, able to do one thing and one thing only, not knowing, and not wanting to know, what the person next to him might be doing differently.

Wilson explains that it is “not surprising to find physicists who do not know what a gene is, and biologists who guess that string theory has something to do with violins.”

Therefore, I (and I’m sure Dr. Wilson does as well) propose the return of Renaissance students who are versed in a variety of disciplines (or at least a couple). Moreover, I propose that universities require their students to diversify their studies.

Students should not be allowed to graduate without at least a superficial understanding of different schools of thought. Students should not be allowed to graduate not knowing the bonds connecting literature, philosophy and art.

This proposition is tremendous, I agree. It requires a shift in thought from almost every single member of our society. Parents must no longer expect their children to earn a degree that will earn them the most money. Students must not attend university only to appease the desires of their parents. Universities must not allow students to get caught in the trap of overspecialized majors and departments.

In general, we must not expect so little from ourselves. We should not create such one-sided lives for ourselves. In order to develop, to evolve into harmonious thinking beings, we must recognize the fruits of a complete and balanced education. Wilson contends that this pursuit “gives ultimate purpose to intellect. It promises that order, not chaos, lies beyond the horizon.”

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