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As the chief academic officer at the kind of university that educated Descartes and inspired Newman, however, Garza is not about to give up on the notion that a college is more than a landscape of independent disciplinary fiefdoms.On a humanistic note, Garza suggests, “I can learn more about what it means to grow old from reading Shakespeare than from the most knowledgeable texts on geriatrics.” But Garza has practical concerns as well: Complex problems such as climate change and global health can only be solved through complex solutions, which requires that researchers leave their monodisciplinary “silos” to develop multifaceted responses, he says.Today, many would say the communities of conversation that Newman prized have given way to islands of inquiry, and the scholarly disciplines through which Descartes moved freely have become “a multitude of academic tribes and territories,” in the words of education scholar Burton R.
Cobb-Stevens says the committee operates by unwritten “common sense” guidelines, which include being on the lookout for electives masquerading as core courses—for example, a philosophy course that focuses on just one philosopher, neglecting the “historical view of knowledge” required of core courses.Clockwise from top left: Garza, Young, O’Connor, and Schor. [and] mathematics has very subtle processes” that satisfy the intellect and edify all of the liberal arts.Photographs: Gary Wayne Gilbert The French philosopher René Descartes once recalled that as a university student, he learned, among other worthwhile things, that “fiction enlivens the mind, famous deeds of history ennoble it . Descartes wrote as an intellectual product of the 17th century as well as of Jesuit education, which was designed with the understanding that knowledge is interrelated and that human beings could be fluent, if not influential, in many fields of inquiry.“We don’t have labs, which are like full-time jobs” in themselves.The planned Institute for Liberal Arts is not intended to replace any liberal arts programs or core requirement, but it will be “the place where faculty and students come together to think about the liberal arts,” says De Leeuw.