CLA officials link disciplines

by Rebecca Teale

College of Liberal Arts officials met Monday to break out of boxes — crossing lines between disciplines, that is.
Dean Steven Rosenstone and more than 100 chairs and heads of the college’s schools and departments milled around among paintings and sculptures at the Weisman Art Museum but quickly dove into matters at hand.
The faculty came together for the second annual CLA Symposium, which was intended to link areas of study through enhanced collaboration and communication.
“The purpose of this symposium,” Rosenstone said, “is to break out of the boxes of our disciplines and think about the kind of environment we want to build for the college.”
Rosenstone said the event brings together the talent and creativity of faculty from different fields to rethink and reenergize the entire college. He said the principle objective was to focus on the future of the whole college instead of individual disciplines.
The event was primarily for discussion and brainstorming so no policy initiatives were brought to light.
Professors from political science, sociology and economics made presentations at five small group sessions involving panel discussion and audience participation. They tried to inspire their colleagues to combine teaching with their research outside of the classroom.
Topics of the sessions included writing beyond the curriculum, information technology as a liberal art, the visual display of knowledge, community outreach in research and internationalizing curriculums.
“Our research can often make the connections that our lecturing can’t,” said political science professor Ed Fogelman. Research attaches lecture material and concepts to concrete occurrences making it easier for students to understand.
For example, economics professor Edward Prescott’s research on macroeconomic theory could help reshape the curriculum he uses in his classes.
“We want undergraduates to be able to answer quantitative economics questions,” Prescott told his peers. “The diffusion of economic knowledge is important in undergraduate teaching.”
Prescott, who on Monday was awarded Rosenstone’s first-ever Dean’s Medal for research, is studying the general equilibrium theory. It illustrates interrelationships between goods, money and non-money asset markets and is one of the newest theories in economics.
The event was coordinated by Associate Dean Ann Waltner and the CLA Committee for Curriculum, Instruction and Advising.