Hi. I’m Carl Gombrich. This blog contains my personal views and thoughts.
In April 2019 I joined a new university The London Interdisciplinary School as Academic Lead and Head of Teaching and Learning. It is a hugely exciting project, building a new sort of interdisciplinary university from scratch. We are looking forward to an amazing journey and to building the best learning experience in the world for our pioneering students!
For the previous 16 years, I worked at UCL, the great university in London. From 2010-2019 I led the set-up of, and then directed, the wonderful Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree.
I was a Professorial Teaching Fellow in Interdisciplinary Education at UCL and I am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Before moving into higher education leadership, I studied and taught maths, physics and philosophy. I have degrees in these things. I have also studied and taught music and was a professional opera singer for a while, having trained at the National Opera Studio in the UK, where I was the Royal Opera House scholar. These days I increasingly teach on interdisciplinarity (as a concept, but also the practicalities of implementation in teaching), changing ideas of expertise, and a little on the knowledge economy and future of work.
Although I mostly read, write and speak on interdisciplinarity and the philosophy of education, I'm interested in everything which touches education - which is pretty much everything!
I've written some papers on higher education, interdisciplinarity and liberal arts and sciences and in former period, when I was heavily involved in music, I published a paper on the connections of mysticism and music called ‘Expressions of Inexpressible Truths’ which was reprinted in a twenty-year commemorative edition of the World of Music.
However, unlike some academics, I am not driven to meet a research agenda and find that I am more impactful in higher education by innovating in teaching and learning and by commissioning and leading new educational projects. My feeling is that we are at the beginning of substantial changes in academia and in our relation to knowledge in general (these sorts of things I write about on the blog) and I am interested to question my relationship to learning, teaching, writing and reading as part of these shifts. As an example of the democratisation of knowledge the internet in bringing - who gets to 'create knowledge' and say 'what counts' - a former student kindly created a wikipedia page for me.
I come from an intellectual and academic family.
I think people can change enormously over their lifetimes: emotionally, politically, artistically, intellectually, and the rest.
At some point – and up to now – these have been some of the thinkers and doers that have shaped my life in some way. The following are listed by category and in rough chronological order, according to when I encountered them.
School teachers: Philip Pullman, Peter Malin
Fiction Writers/Poets: Homer, Dickens, Hermann Hesse, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Baudelaire, George Herbert, Shakespeare, Murakami, Jhumpa Lahiri
Philosophers: Plato, Plotinus, Bertrand Russell, Pascal, Hume, Bergson, Wittgenstein, A W Moore, Graham Priest, George Boolos, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty, George Lakoff
Relgious writers: Augustine, Thomas Merton, Therese d'Avila, Meister Eckhart, St Thomas a Kempis, Nicholas of Cusa
Scientists/Mathematicians: Morris Klein, Richard Dawkins, Paul Davies, Einstein, Feynman, Cantor, Godel, Alan Wilson
J M Greer, Nassim Taleb, Coleman Hughes, Thomas Sowell, Kate Raworth
Musicians: The Clash, Ian Dury, Al Green, Chopin, Bach, Stevie Wonder, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers, Horovitz, Richter, Haydn, Beethoven, Verdi, Gene Harris, Jussi Bjoerling, Maria Callas, Boris Christoff, Cesare Siepi, George London, Jacob Collier
Politicians/Leaders/Business people/Sports people: Barack Obama, Warren Buffett, Eric Cantona, Arsene Wenger, Ian Wright, Mike Tyson, Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt,
and of course many friends and members of my family.