Thursday, November 26, 2015

[Yasmin_discussions] Grand Challenge for Science and Engineering: Self-Knowledge- an open call to Humanists

Grand Challenge for Science and Engineering: Self-Knowledge- an open
call to Humanists


On December 2, the US National Academy of Science is organising a
meeting to embark on new projects aimed at improving the understanding
and application of science, engineering and medicine toward the
social, economic and cultural well-being of the nation and planet. The
summary statement of scope is at

The announcement states: we believe it is critical to work with
partners in the humanities for their input and engagement.

This is an open call for all of us in the art/science/technology, STEM
to STEAM and other related movements to raise our interests, concerns
and issues !! We are currently doing a 5 year snapshot update of the
SEAD report and welcome your inputs: Yasminer posts that have been
appearing will be included in our complication.

Tom Rudin of the NAS, who is organising the Dec 2 meeting pointed us
to this excellent essay by Carl Mitcham:

published in Issues, the journal of the NAS. He argues that we are
entering a new Axial Age:

"In a critical reflection on world history, the German philosopher
Karl Jaspers observed how in the first millennium BCE, human cultures
in Asia and Europe independently underwent a profound transformation
that he named the Axial Age. Thinkers as diverse as Confucius, Laozi,
Buddha, Socrates, and the Hebrew prophets began to ask what it means
to be human. Humans no longer simply accepted whatever ways of life
they were born into; they began to subject their cultures to critical
assessment. Today we are entering a new Axial Age, one in which we no
longer simply accept the physical world into which we are born. But
engineering makes almost no effort to give engineers—or any of the
rest of us—the tools to reflect on themselves and their
world-transforming enterprise."

These arguments are a relief beacuse many of us in the art/sci/tech
community have despaired that ofen the arts and humanities are
'instrumentalised' with their being viewed as "in service' to the
dominant technoscientific culture we are in- the mantra
art/science/creativity/innovation/entreneurs/jobs/employment fails to
ask the deeper question of what kind of world, and embedded values, do
we want to build. The interaction of Science/Engineering with the
Arts/Design/Humanities needs to be a symmetric process of mutual
influence and mutual benefit and Mitcham articulates some of these

For the rest of this discussion- see my blog post at:

We welcome your comments and thoughts on this YASMIN discussion and
will include them in the synthesis we are preparing

Roger Malina

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