Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Unity of Study

After briefly reading the first few chapters of a textbook on urban sociology (by Dr. Efren Padilla of California State University Hayward), it struck me on how the process of learning, particularly that in university, could be geared towards something more thematic rather than specialist. In Silliman University, where I'm studying right now, we divide the departments according to their different fields, such as engineering, history, computer science or management. Although this is a good model for producing engineers, historians, computer scientists or managers, it's not exactly the best arrangement to produce people who can integrate, innovate and basically move the body of knowledge further. What if an engineer understands how physical structures impact the social arrangements within a city? What if the historian can articulate a new paradigm of historical thought based on quantum mechanics? What if the computer scientist integrates biological principles into a program? What if the manager has a firm grounding on ethical philosophy and its relationship to public relations? What if students are constantly challenged to break through the limits of their fields of specialty and approach learning-- not as a rote discipline of mechanistic obedience to the doctrines-- but as a playground of ideas and a melting pot of exploration?

A unified approach to knowledge is more powerful, because it goes beyond the status quo. It gets people to change the way they think, to change their approach.

As a student in the College of Mass Communication, I've found myself trying to break through the barriers of my field. It's common enough to equate my college with journalism, but even this can be taken beyond its usual focus on training a "journalist". Communication is an exciting theme that invades so many other fields of thought: language, economics, philosophy, physics, computer technology, urban society, psychology and more. If I had to approach communication as an integrated course, i'd be enrolled in more classes than the students of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences. And at the end of my four years here, I'd be on the path to being educated, rather than having simply recieved vocational training.

To make knowledge relevant in this post-modern world, we need to integrate and unify, instead of remaining within the comfort of our little exclusivist niches of specialization.

- Quark

No comments: