THE study of humanities is imperative for a student’s intellectual development, as highlighted by Mr Heng Cho Choon (“Study of humanities helps us solve society’s problems”; last Friday). This is also the present approach in our secondary school curriculum, where we have to offer subjects in both the sciences and humanities and social sciences.
However, in line with the current intellectual environment, we are heading into an era of interdisciplinary learning and research. Science and the humanities complement each other, and we should be looking at ways to integrate these two previously disparate fields into a coherent academic endeavour.
One way to approach this is to adopt a liberal arts pedagogy, where a student gets exposed to different domains of thinking on the same issue. Many modern-day issues require solutions from diverse fields. For example, to overcome the drought in California, we need knowledge about meteorology, geography, economics and political science.
A more radical measure would involve the eradication of traditional subject boundaries, and the adoption of more phenomenon-based inquiry.
While we can study the philosophy of physics, we can similarly import ideas in physics to fields such as biology, political science, or even music. The opening of these interdisciplinary fields can be realised only if we think about issues from multiple perspectives.
A holistic consideration of the world around us enables the appreciation of both the sciences and the humanities, along with the rich heritage of our progress.
Chua Meng Shuen