Dr. John Jean reflects on his time as a teacher-scholar in Portugal and the intersection of science and the humanities
John Jean is spending a semester as a Fulbright teacher-scholar in the humanities at the University of Lisbon. He teaches a graduate-level course in philosophy of science and an undergraduate course in technology and ethics. John shared some thoughts from his time abroad with Regis.edu.
How will you apply what you are teaching/learning abroad to your work at Regis?
The graduate course I teach is a hybrid of two courses I have taught previously at Regis. In crafting this "mashup" course, I've realized a number of new avenues that I feel will resonate with both science and non-science students at Regis and look forward to implementing them. I've also come to further appreciate the experience of living abroad and the importance of that experience to someone's intellectual development. I will certainly use my experience here to strongly encourage science students to spend a semester abroad, even if it means substantially re-tooling their academic schedule.
How do science and the humanities inform one another and why it is vital for a student to study both?
What today we call science grew out of philosophy starting with the work of people like Galileo, Kepler and Newton (who would have referred to themselves as natural philosophers). Galileo was profoundly influenced by the art and architecture of his day. Kant's critical philosophy was inspired in part by Newton's physics and the early development of quantum mechanics was undoubtedly influenced by the positivist philosophy of the 1920s and ’30s. Today, new developments in particle physics have given rise to plays and operas and have permeated our culture, while fundamental physics has come to see the symmetry properties of natural law as the most fundamental aspect of the natural world. Understanding how scientific revolutions occur is impossible, in my mind, without taking into account the philosophical/political/religious context in which they occurred. I think this kind of approach to understanding the methods and goals of science is essential to a well-rounded, liberal education.
Is there anything more about the experience you can share?
Being a Fulbright scholar here has been an amazing experience! It's given me a chance to teach something I truly love to students in a completely new environment with new challenges.
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