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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.

 

Expertise

What is expertise? ‘Expert skill and knowledge in a particular field’. What is a field? That is much harder. Is this woman an expert in her field? I asked this question of a group of students. The answer was, ‘Yes, she’s an expert because she has a PhD’. But her PhD is in Physical Chemistry – and this is certainly not her field any more. Is running a country a field? I think it is, but it’s not something you can get a PhD in. I think Merkel is an expert in the field of runnin

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?

Education for ‘specialisation’ in the knowledge economy

There are many reasons to believe that a liberal and interdisciplinary education in arts and sciences is the best to prepare you for work in a knowledge economy. In this world, service jobs overwhelmingly dominate and workers are required to show flexibility, creativity, empathy, team-working skills and so on. The, formerly competing, notions of inherent value and instrumental value blur together in jobs which require ‘virtual collaboration’, ‘cross-cultural competency’, ‘sen

Very short blog about generalists and specialists

Greeks – generalists Romans – specialists (notable exceptions: Varro, Cicero and a few others) Scholastics – specialists Renaissance – generalists Enlightenment – generalists Industrial period – specialists Post-industrial period – generalists (?) Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons #generalism #historyofknowledge #specialism

Holistic Hijack

I had in mind to do a proper academic blog on an idea I have that liberal education has generally not flourished in the UK due to a widespread suspicion of ‘theory’ and a healthy devotion to empiricism and pragmatism. However, the blog wasn’t happening, so I’ve sketched the idea in this vlog instead. Here: 1. I reflect briefly on my own writing (or lack of it) in my current position. 2. I contrast some ideas of education from Europe (Humboldt) with our more British ideas of w

Specialism, Generalism, Details and the Big Picture

Interdisciplinarity is in vogue in education. It’s been in vogue in the US for a while and throughout most of the last 100 years some major institutions in the States have offered interdisciplinary modules or fully interdisciplinary degrees. The discussion is now in full flow in the UK, after some isolated but noticeable attempts at similar projects over the last 50 years or so. It is widely agreed that in areas such as International Development, Gaming, Behavioural Economics

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

 

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