English at Reading
We are delighted to announce that the new third-year module on Science in Culture, run jointly by English Literature and the School of Biological Sciences, has won a University Collaborative Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning. John Holmes and Andrew Mangham in English launched this module this term with David Stack in History and Nick Battey, Keith Chappell and Steve Ansell in Biology. We have been teaching students from a wide range of disciplines, from English to Zoology, alongside one another in a mixed group. Our aim has been to bring together our very different approaches to understanding science and its place in culture, so that students and staff alike can learn how to combine literary, historical and scientific perspectives on topics such as evolution, monstrosity, genetic modification and scientific objectivity itself. We’ve been learning in the lab and museums, as well as the lecture theatre and seminar rooms, and reading scientific papers and controversies alongside novels, science fiction and poems. It has been a rich experience in itself, but also a really valuable experiment in interdisciplinary education, breaking down the barriers between what C. P. Snow called the ‘Two Cultures’, showing how science is embedded in culture, yet also how scientific and humanities approaches to knowledge can complement rather than undermining one another. It is great that the University has given its full backing to this experiment with this award, and we are looking forward to carrying it on next year with a new cohort of students.