Experiential Learning and Purpose-Centered Education
Meets Liberal Arts and Science Education:
What Can We Do For Each Other?

Paul Grobstein
Center for Science in Society
Bryn Mawr College

Notes for Discussion at
Metropolitan College of New York
21 June 2005

The Concern:

The exclusive, remote, dusty ivory tower life
the egalitarian, engaged, practical nitty-gritty life

Finding Common Ground:

"As organisations struggle to be competitive in the global marketplace, employees who 'do as they are told' are no longer sufficient. The times require employees who think for themselves, use their judgment and make self-directed improvements, especially where their responses cannot be anticipated and scripted. Creative individuals who come up with novel and useful ideas for products, services and processes are ... of fundamental importance in the modern workplace, where innovation provides a competitive edge." Sharon Parker, Australian Graduate School of Management, 2001

"The scale and complexity of today's biomedical research problems increasingly demands that scientists move beyond the confines of their own discipline and explore new organizational models for team science ... Many scientists will continue to pursue individual research projects; however, they will be encouraged to make changes in the way they approach the scientific enterprise."Roadmap, National Institutes of Health, 2003
Be practical AND thoughtful,
recognize the importance of what is around one AND imagine how it might be otherwise,
take seriously what others know AND think for yourself.
Empower both yourself and others around you.

The Place of Science (more obviously):

Science in itself and via technology is pervasive, affecting all aspects not only of human life but of our conceptions of humanness and of our place in the universe.

To ignore science is to significantly handicap oneself and others,
to defer to powers over which one has no influence or control.
The Place of Science (less obviously but probably more importantly):
Science as body of knowledge             Science as process                                  
Science as practical knowledge/skepticism/innovation
Learn what others have learned about how to do a job

Look always for things that aren't being done as well as they might

Imagine ways to improve them

Be willing to test your imagined improvements in practice

Share your new understandings with others


Science is a practical skill, one that everyone is born using
and that everyone can/should be encouraged to become better at

How to teach science

Science as shared "story telling", "getting it less wrong" ... How to do it, in practice?

A challenge/opportunity/purpose/constructive action
for all of us

Some aids to thinking/conceiving/experimenting ...

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