Bridging the "Two Cultures": Presenting the Grand Narrative of the Sciences

By Barry Wood.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Half a century ago C. P. Snow described the divide between “two cultures,” the sciences and the humanities; yet the divide remains. The focus and methodology of the sciences—specialized and objective—virtually preclude unification from the science side. The challenge for the humanities is to employ interdisciplinary and subjective methodologies to join the two cultures. While individual sciences (astronomy, chemistry, geology, biology, anthropology, and genetics) investigate specific areas of knowledge, each includes an underlying history and narrative defining its relevance to the human situation today. An extended history or grand narrative will recount the origins of the Universe, formation of Earth, progress of life, and human ascent united by themes of emergence, ordered complexity, and creativity. Our challenge is widespread incorporation of big history and cosmic narratives into educational curricula from grade school to grad school.

Keywords: History, Narrative, Big History, Cosmic Narratives

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.53-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 326.393KB).

Dr Barry Wood

Associate Professor, Department of English , College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA

I was born in Canada and completed my education at University of Toronto (BA 1963), University of British Columbia (MA 1968), and Stanford University (PhD 1974). My primary teaching area is American literature but I have moved progressively into world literatures, emphasizing narrative. My publications are in Canadian and American literature (Lowry, Davies, Emerson, Thoreau, Twain). I am affiliated with the International Big History Association (IBHA) and currently teach a core-curriculum course of my own design, Cosmic Narratives, a narrative history of the Universe from its beginnings to the present that draws on the major sciences, with my students mentored by members of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM).