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CARL GOMBRICH - BLOG

Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity, and some related things like Expertise and Future of Work

Welcome to my new blog. You can read more about me in the About tab, top left. I'm looking forward to getting back to 'writing and thinking out loud' about Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity and other things that interest me. You can talk to me either here or on my linked Twitter feed.

 

Interdisciplinarity and Intellectual Excitement

I’ve been blogging on the connection between studying at university and work recently. I think this is important because the overwhelming majority of our students will not work in universities; there is no obvious reason, therefore, why studying a single university discipline is the best thing for most students to do in order to prepare themselves for the majority of white-collar jobs. I am also positive about the relationship between traditional university work and values an

Two problems with academic specialisation

One theme of this blog is the relative importance of specialising over staying broader in your education while at university – particularly at undergraduate level. Elsewhere I’ve made the case for a broader higher education on a number of grounds. But let’s say you want to go on to become an academic, the next stage is usually to do a PhD and then to publish papers in learned journals. A PhD must be ‘an original contribution to knowledge‘ and that must be significant, right?

Work, skills, education and 21st century blarney

Had a good ol’ chat with Tom Bennett on Twitter last night. In case you don’t know Tom (and neither do I, really) he’s a superb edu blogger – very funny and very much in the ‘trad’ camp when it comes to the current debates on school education. Tom hates stuff about teaching 21st century skills: emotional intelligence; resilience; teamwork collaboration and those sorts of things. I sent him this link which he commented on as ‘total gibberish’. I’m not so sure. But even if I’m

Reclaiming Generalism

Ask yourself this: would you prefer your prime minister to have studied one thing at university or to have had a more rounded higher education? I put this question recently to a group of 60 school and college students who came to UCL. They had come to see what the Arts and Sciences degree was about. Many of them were interested to consider it as a degree they might take. When asking the question, I did my best to point out to the students that I might be biased. Further, I ac

Breadth vs Depth in university education

Health Warning: I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep separate my personal views about education, as expressed on this blog, and the work I am doing on Arts and Sciences BASc. I guess this is inevitable and may be no bad thing. It is worth saying, though, that by no means all that I write or say here will feed into or be applicable or relevant to courses we offer on the BASc. A couple of weeks back I was taken with a comment from my colleague Prof Vincent Walsh that

The Khan Academy and undergraduate education

I’ve been struck today by this story on the BBC pages, which pulls together things I have been writing on the blog since I started and which has interesting implications for undergraduate education. The Khan Academy is superb. It is close to covering universally the entire syllabi of the world’s schools. It cannot be long before Khan and his team take on undergraduate education: Calculus 101, Biochemistry 101, the great texts of English literature etc. (UPDATE, 26 November –

Experts, PhDs, research, employment – and musicians

There is anxiety that the UK is not producing enough PhD level researchers, particularly in science and engineering. The view of some commentators such as Brian Cox is that this puts our economy and national well-being at risk. There is no doubt that we need experts. And there is no doubt we need cutting edge research and brilliant leading specialists to push things forward. The question is: how many such experts do we need, and would society (and the individuals in it) be be

Interdisciplinarity, future work and the learning of ‘languages’

Currently my work has me thinking about future employment, the world of work and the role of universities in preparing students for this aspect of their lives. For this blog entry, I want to put aside the issue of whether there is a conflict within universities between scholarship and preparing people for the world of work. There are other articles on things like this in this blog. Let’s assume here that the proportion of the population going to university will remain high an

 

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