When designing a curriculum, there is and always will be competition for the limited number of courses a student successfully can master, which begs the question: What should the minimum requirement for graduation include and what should the proportion be between a narrow job training and a broader education? In the field of engineering, this question is even more pressing because the toolbox for solving problems – this is what engineers are meant to do professionally – is vast and very complex in and of itself. But in the globalized world of the 21st century, solving problems alone seems no longer sufficient and cultural and inter-cultural competencies are being added to the target specifications of a successful engineer.
Moreover, engineering and the natural sciences are just one expression of human curiosity and culture, others being music, art, literature, philosophy, the social sciences and even religion. Of course, historians of science and technology know this and are exploring different stages of human development from this angle. The opposite case might not be as obvious and the argument for an inclusion of humanities and social sciences in engineering often “goes without saying.“ This panel would like to fill in some blanks and maybe even provide an answer to the question: Does it really have to be Shakespeare, Goethe, and Bach?
This panel includes Pamela H. Smith, Founding Director of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University