The Humanities as the Catalyst for Knowledge Integration

Another death knell for the humanities. Since tonight is Halloween, an article in the New York Times “As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry” seems timely. The humanities have had a rough go of it in terms of student enrollment, and so initiatives such as Digital Humanities have come to the rescue not only to instrument a stay of execution, but as a means to employ methods such as Big Data as a way to analyze culturally significant texts using computing tools.

I sit in between two worlds: Arts & Humanities and Computer Science, but in my short time at the University of Texas at Dallas (less than a year), I am finding that the humanities have a much greater role to play in the academy than has been publicly acknowledged. It started this Fall when I began to teach Computer Simulation in my home area of Arts & Technology (ATEC).

I had taught this class for 25 years mostly to engineering and computer science students. But things started to change for me, and the students, as I began teaching humanists and computer scientists together in the same class. I am radically changing how I teach the course mainly as a result of a strong influence from the arts and humanities. Instead of a set of narrow simulation topics, I selected a 13th century water clock design by Al Jazari.