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Science and Culture

 

What is science? How does it relate to our lives as individual human beings? to other aspects of our social and cultural communities?

 

What is our future? ...our own role in and responsibility for the future? Can empirical inquiry help with such questions?

 

How does empirical understanding relate to other kinds of understanding? Are they necessarily antagonistic or can they usefully complement one another?

Drawing by Rachel Grobstein

 

Directory

What is science? | Science Education | Science and the Arts & Humanities | Science and Philosophy

Science and Religion | Science and Social Organization | Science as a professional activity | Additional resources

 

= interactive exhibits; = includes on-line public forum

What is science?

What IS Science? or Science as Story-Telling or Science as a Common Human Story of Exploration, Discovery, and Creation or Finding Ways to Make it So An exhibit.

Revisiting Science in Culture: Science as Story Telling and Story Revising A published paper.

Getting it Less Wrong and Science as Getting it Less Wrong Discussions which explore the idea of getting science "less wrong" rather than "right" (archived discussion).

Science as "getting it less wrong" A commentary. See also Getting It Less Wrong (student essay).

Evolution/Science: Inverting the Relationship Between Randomness and Meaning An essay and discussion.

The Three Doors of Serendip: Making Sense of Understanding An interactive exhibit exploring what it means to "understand" and on-line forum.

Ways of Making Sense of the World: From Primal Patterns to Deterministic and Non-Deterministic Emergence An interactive exhibit exploring various approaches to inquiry.

Science and Conversation: Learning to Avoid Dismissivness Thoughts and examples of science as conversation.

From Complexity to Emergence and Beyond: The Nature of Inquiry, and of What is Being Inquired Into Notes from the Emergence Working Group.

Empirical Inquiry: Limitations and Possibilities Notes from the Emergence Working Group.

On Beyond Post-Modernism: Discriminating Stories Notes from the Emergence Working Group.

Science Education
Education: Between Two Cultures A conversation.

Put a Little Science in Your Life, Extended A short essay and discussion.

Open-ended Inquiry in Science Education (and Education in General?) An essay and discussion.

Science Education - Matters of Diversity A discussion.

Emergent Pedagogy: Learning to Enjoy the Uncontrollable and Make it Productive A paper.

Science Education: What's it all about? Essays by faculty and students involved in science education, reflecting on what goes right and what doesn't.

Science as Exploration/Story Telling and The Brain as a Scientist/Explorer/Story Teller Notes for K-12 inservice day.

The Importance of Process in Science, the Brain, and Education Notes from Changing Pedagogies in Math and Science Education at Bryn Mawr College, 2005.

Thinking About an Elementary Science Education Curriculum: A Collaboration between Lansdowne Friends School and the Bryn Mawr College Center for Science in Society.

The Scientist/Teacher: A Call to Arms A paper.

Learning, Working, and Playing in the Digital Age An annotated transcript of a talk by John Seely Brown.

A Vision of Science (and Science Education) in the 21st Century An essay written for Dialogue on The Changing Roles of Mathematics and Science in Society: "Science, Technology, and Society: Ethical Awareness for Tomorrow's Leaders" at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Introductory Science: Experiments in Bridging Cultures A set of notes.

Evolving science/science education A short essay.

Evolving Science Education A Progress Report and Prospectus, 2006.

Science and the Arts & Humanities

Two cultures or one? A commentary.

The two cultures - a conversation Excerpts from an email conversation initiated by faculty at Bryn Mawr College who teach in the College Seminar Program, 2001.

The Nature of Inquiry: Story Telling and Retelling in the Science and Humanities A course and archived conversation.

Three-Dimensional Story Telling: An exploration of Teaching Reading, Writing, and Beyond (.pdf) A published paper.

Exploring Interdisciplinarity: The Significance of Metaphoric and Metonymic Exchange (.pdf) A published paper.

Theorizing Interdisciplinarity: The Evolution of New Academic and Intellectual Communities A published paper.

The humanities and sciences: learning from eachother? An essay.

Science and non-science: bridging the two culture gap A conversation in the Diversity and Discovery Institute, 2000

Ursula K. Le Guin's Bryn Mawr Commencement Address, 1986

The Art Historian and the Neurobiologist A conversation.

The Novelist and the Neurobiologist A conversation.

The Linguist and the Neurobiologist A conversation.

The Psychoanalyst and the Neurobiologist A conversation.

Emerging Genres: Form and Transformation, From Novels to Blogs A course taught in the English department at Bryn Mawr College, 2008.

Why Words Arise--and Wherefore: Literature and Literary Theory as Forms of Exploration An essay.

Emergence and Contingency/Purpose/Agency: An Exploration of and Intersection Between History and Biology/Neurobiology A ???

The Story of Evolution and Evolution of Stories A course at Bryn Mawr College 2009 taught by faculty in English and Biology (see list of courses for past semesters).

Questions, Intuitions, Revisions: Storytelling as Inquiry A freshman seminar at Bryn Mawr College taught by faculty in English and Biology.

The Brain Constructing the World An exhibit related to synesthesia & perception and a collaboration between Serendip and Painted Bride Art Center.

Guest Exhibits

Science and Philosophy

Paths to Story Telling as Life: Fellow Traveling with Richard Rorty An essay and discussion.

Mind and Body: René Descartes to William James An exhibit with extensive documentation.

Unintended consequences, unconceived alternatives, and... life (among other things) An essay.

Writing Descartes: I Am, and I Can Think, Therefore... An essay and archived discussion.

The Nature of Science: The "Problem of Unconceived Alternatives" and its Significance A conversation with the author of Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives.

The Bipartite Brain And Its Significance for Idealism, Pragmatism and Other Matters A set of illustrated notes.

The Brain Making Reality Notes from a freshamn seminar course.

Fundamentalism and Relativism: Finding a New Direction An essay and archived discussion.

Philosophy of Science A course at Bryn Mawr College, 2008 (see list of courses for past semesters).

Science and Religion

Intelligent Design and the Story of Evolution: No Need for Drawing Lines in the Sand An essay and archived discussion.

The Physical and the Spiritual: A Conversation About "How to Get Through the Veil" A conversation and archived discussion.

Science & Spirit An exploration of science and religion.

Science/Religion Clash? A letter to the editor of the NYT.

On Being a "Lonely" Athiest An essay.

Evolution and Intelligent Design: Perspectives and Resources

Science and Social Organization

The Brain and Social Organization/Culture A resource page of materials on Serendip and elsewhere on the web and on-line forum.

Individuals and Cultures A resource page of materials on Serendip and elsewhere on the web and on-line forum.

Interdisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, and Beyond: The Brain, Story Sharing, and Social Organization A published paper on parallels between brain and social organization.

Culture as Disability An essay exploring "disabilities", "abilities", and their relation to culture.

Thinking About Segregation and Integration An interactive exhibit.

Exploring Mental Health A collection of materials and resources aimed to promote "productive interaction among people from diverse perspectives... and continual exploration of issues relating to mental health and broader issues relating to body/brain/mind/self..." and on-line forum.

Exploring Mental Health: Culture and Behavior A collection of materials directed at exploring the relationship between social and cultural organization and individual behavior/internal experiences.

The Brain as a Learner/Inquirer/Creator: Some Implications of its Organization for Individual and Social Well Being An essay.

Diversity: beyond issues of fairness? A discussion.

The Scale of Humaness

Science as a professional activity

The Need for a Scientific Code of Conduct? An evolving exhibit focusing on need of both scientists and others to clarify the ethical responsibilities inherent in scientific research.

Thoughts on Obama's "restore science to its rightful place" A short essay.

Some Thoughts on Academic Structure (and Socio-Political Structures Generally): A Biological Metaphor as an Alternative to Both State's Rights and Federalism at Bryn Mawr College (and Elsewhere) An essay.

Science Matters... How? An essay.

"I Believe ...": Its Significance and Limitations for Individuals, Science, and Politics An essay.

This I Believe and The Perils and Potentials of "I Believe" Two short essays.

Science in Society in the 21st Century: Interdisciplinarity and Beyond Notes from the 2004 workshop at Juniata College, "Implications of the NIH Roadmap for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education: A Research Scientist Springboard Program".

Science and Public Responsibility A short essay.

The rebirth of American pragmatism/non-foundationalism A short essay.

Additional resources

Serendip's Bookshelves

Seed Magazine "Science is Culture".

Edge.org "The mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society."

Exploratorium The Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception.

Science, arts and culture archive From the journal Nature.

"Science" has meant different things at different times in history, means different things to different people at the same time time (such as the present), and can mean different things to the same person at different points in their own lifetime. To put it differently "science" is, like many things, an evolving concept, one that derives its significance in part from a continual and public challenging and revision of its meaning.

Science as Story Telling

 

I believe the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two groups. When I say the intellectual life, I mean to include also a large part of our practical life, because I should be the last person to suggest the two can at the deepest level be distinguished ... Literary intellectuals at one pole - at the other scientists ... Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension - sometimes (particularly among the young) hostitility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding ... This polarisation is sheer loss to us all. To us as people, and to our society. It is at the same time practical and intellectual and creative loss, and I repeat that it is false to imagine that those three considerations are clearly separable.

C.P. Snow, The Two Cultures

 

Socrates and Plato suggested that if we tried hard enough we should find beliefs which everybody found intuitively plausible, and that among these would be moral beliefs whose implications, when clearly realized, would make us virtuous as well as knowledgeable... unwobbling pivots that determine the answer to the question: Which moral or political alternative is objectively valid? For Deweyan pragmatists like me, history and anthropology are enough to show that there are no unwobbling pivots, and that seeking objectivity is just a matter of getting as much intersubjective agreement as you can manage.

Richard Rorty, Trotsky and the Wild Orchids

 

If the natural sciences can be successfully united with the social sciences and the humanities, the liberal arts in higher education will be revitalized ... The future of the liberal arts lies ... in addressing the fundamental questions of human existence head on, without embarrassment or fear, taking them from the top down in easily understandable language, and progressively rearranging them into domains of inquiry that unite the best of science and the humanities at each level of organization in turn.

E.O. Wilson, Consilience

 

Both science itself, and the human culture of which it is a part, would benefit from a story of science that encourages wider engagement with and participation in the processes of scientific exploration... It is the story of science as story telling and story revising. The story of science as story suggests that science can and should serve three distinctive functions for humanity: providing stories that may increase (but never guarantee) human well-being, serving as a supportive nexus for human exploration and story telling in general, and exemplifying a commitment to skepticism and a resulting open-ended and continuing exploration of what might yet be.

Revisiting Science in Culture

 

Science has the potential to be what we all collectively need as we evolve into a world wide community: a nexus point that encourages and supports the evolution of shared human stories of exploration and growth, an evolution in which all human beings are involved and take pride. For this to happen, we all need to work much harder to not only reduce the perception of science as a specialized and isolated activity of the few but to make it in fact the product and property of all human beings...

Revisiting Science in Culture


Updated 5 Feb 2009 by Paul Grobstein and Laura Cyckowski.

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