I'm an English major, but I've taken a whole JBS semester in sociology, 2 theater classes, 2 creative writing classes, 2 legal studies classes, a math class…the list goes on.
My point is, a liberal arts education involves lots of different subject areas all kind of mixing together. And that's the way it should be. Especially at Brandeis, students are encouraged to study in multiple disciplines. So why not combine disciplines within a course, exposing students to multiple perspectives on the same issue?
The latest BrandeisNow features an article concerning two of my favorite teachers, Jane Kamensky and Sue Lanser, for winning the the Innovative Course Design award from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
Kamesky, a History and Women's and Gender Studies professor, and Lanser, who teaches English, Women’s and Gender Studies and Comparative Literature, and is currently on sabatical, teamed up in the fall of 2010 to teach Brandeis' first course in English and History.
||London from Restoration to Regency: People, Culture, City
As BrandeisNow reports, the course focused on London's history, geography (with special attention paid to maps), and culture, delving into its art, music, architecture, theater and more.
By combining these disciplines, the course offered a more complete look at London than analysis through one specific, more in-depth lens, could offer. What is the worth of being an expert on London's literature from the 1800's if you have no sense of who wrote it or what they were responding to?
I think this course (which will be offered again during the 2013-14 school year) is a great initiative, and would like to take an English-History course in the future.
In fact, the class I took with Kamesky, SYS 1c, was a sophomore seminar for my Lerman-Neubauer Fellowship, which asked the question "How Do We Know What We Know?" from a variety of perspectives. In class, we analyzed the concept of the self, and how it pertains to different disciplines and methodologies, from the lenses of: Economics (former Dean Jaffe), Art History (Prof. Kalb), History (Prof. Kamensky) and Neuroscience (Prof. Katz).
Each sections lasted about 8 weeks (half a semester), and consisted of in-depth analyses and class discussions. I had never taken college classes in any of these areas before, and they truly opened my mind. This opportunity is not available to all students, but I think more interdisciplinary seminar courses should be offered.