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Kudos for HASTAC in San Diego Business Journal

Here is a reblog of an absolutely wonderful article about HASTAC in the San Diego Business Journal by distinguished professor John M. Eger. 


May 1. 2010

                                                             By John M. Eger

One bright spot on the educational horizon is an organization called HASTAC

Founded at Duke and The California Institute for the Humanities --and by some of the  best and brightest faculty in other Universities across America-- HASTAC stands for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Collaboratory.

Borne of the anxiety about the future of the humanities in a technological age, Cathy Davidson, then vice provost at Duke, and David Goldberg, Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute and a handful of like minded academics, argued for "a new alliance of humanists, artists, social scientists, natural scientists, and engineers, working collaboratively'Š'to envision new ways of learning that can serve the goals of a global society".

HASTAC has been attracting the best and the brightest from universities across the country, and in the process, producing cutting edge documentaries, multi-media exhibits, research papers and conferences that are compelling in themselves, but importantly underscore the vital importance of re-thinking not only post secondary education, but all our systems of education.

Thanks to a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC is now reimagining learning, encouraging faculty and students to cross disciplines to produce initiatives in competition for the MacArthur prizes.

Given the painful cuts in education our systems face, only radical solutions will meet the challenges before us. Globalization, the worldwide spread of the Internet, and University stagnation has all combined to spell disaster for our institutions of higher learning and America's future. We need to rethink the way people think and re-imagine learning .
And we need to bridge the "two cultures" of art and science that have separated our educational systems and the potential of the human mind.

Like CP Snow's Two Cultures, HASTAC is and has been blurring the lines between the disciplines of art and science. That divide, Natalie Angier of The New York Times said earlier last year, "continues to this day, particularly in the United States, as educators, policymakers and other observers bemoan the Balkanization of knowledge, the scientific illiteracy of the general public and the chronic academic turf wars that are all too easily lampooned".

The IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, reportedly has found a way to "bridge the chasm between business and design." It defines design as "a core methodology of innovation" and as such, it argues, represents the key to new inventions and innovation itself. Business schools across America are rethinking their curricula, too, as the Master of Fine Arts is as valued to business as the revered MBA.

Dartmouth is exploring "Mathematic Across the Curriculum" linking mathematics with a humanistic discipline in over sixteen disciplines; and the University of Michigan launched something called "The Millennium Project" to merge humanities courses into their engineering curriculum.

Angier reported "the most ambitious of these exercises in fusion thinking is a program under development at Binghamton University in New York called the New Humanities Initiative", which bring the arts and humanities faculty together with faculty from all the sciences to offer interdisciplinary seminars with the hope of creating whole brain, creative thinking.

HASTAC does all that -- and is now poised to turn education upside down, to renew and reinvent 21-century education.

Now it is time however to move HASTAC initiatives from concept to reality, from a unique collaboration to a vital force for change. By creating HASTAC Centers of Excellence at every university, large and small; attracting more students and increasing faculty participation from every school, department and college; it should offer course credit for what is certain to be the basis for new curricula to meet the need of what is now a global, knowledge based world.

Eger is Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public policy in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University and Director of The Creative Economy Initiative.


John M. Eger
Van Deerlin Chair of Communication and Public Policy
School of Journalism and Media Studies
Director, Program on the Creative Economy
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA
telephone 6195946910


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