There are three worlds on most American college campuses: The logical
World of Science, where students and professors in white laboratory
coats lose themselves in that which can be carefully observed and
proved. And the dreamy World of the Humanities such as poetry and art,
in which anything that can be imagined seems possible.
The third campus world, where these rationalists and free thinkers find common ground, is the local bar or pizzeria.
liberal-arts students are forced to take a science course or two – and
engineer types must endure English lit – in order to meet requirements
for a degree. But equations and formulas confound most creative
souls. And having to write a composition terrifies the lab-coat
crowd. Not a lot of learning goes on.
So these days, many
colleges are striving to bridge the alien worlds of science and the
arts in a more meaningful way. There's the New Humanities Initiative
at Binghamton University in New York state, for instance. It is
described as a two-way street between the two worlds – a street where
logic and imagination can merge rather than collide.
used for study at Binghamton is the wolf – an animal whose genetics
and behavior can be scientifically tracked, but which is also
rapturously beautiful and fierce – even mystical.
The idea is
to get the science kids' eyes away from their microscopes, and the
artsy folks' minds out of the clouds, ideally producing whole cadres of
renaissance women and men. Together, or so goes the thinking, new
levels of understanding and expression might be reached about
everything from wolves to world peace.
But one must ask: Is this possible without pizza and beer?