Symposium on Engineering and Liberal Education
May 9-10, 2008
Union College is exploring better ways to integrate engineering, technology and the traditional liberal arts. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation we are holding a symposium to launch this initiative on May 9-10, 2008.
In 1845 Union was a pioneer in adding engineering to the liberal arts college in response to the needs of a nation characterized by rapid industrial and urban growth. The introduction of engineering as a field of study was a matter of preparing students to enter and succeed in that world. A century and a half later, science and engineering are even more important.
In addition, “interdisciplinarity" has become indispensable to most fields of inquiry and a broader integrated approach to education is called for which incorporates essential elements of engineering thought and method into what it means to be liberally educated. This broader approach will apply equally to 21st century engineers and 21st century poets and historians.
In recognition of the need to expand our understanding of what it means to be a liberally educated citizen, this symposium will bring together select academic leaders and scholars to explore different models for integrating engineering, technology and the traditional liberal arts. We expect participants from a dozen or more liberal arts colleges who will engage with one another and with invited scholars. The evolution of liberal education, how engineering fits into a liberal education, and the importance of a liberal education for engineers will be addressed by our featured speakers who will include:
Stephen Ainlay, President of Union College
Carol Christ, President of Smith College
Lance Schachterle, Associate Provost, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Domenico Grasso, Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematics, University of Vermont
There will be an informal reception on the evening of Thursday, May 8 and the symposium itself will get underway Friday morning. In addition to speakers, there will be breakout sessions to discuss the issues and on Saturday morning we will showcase examples of creative initiatives that bring engineering and liberal art together.