Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and the Social Sciences: A Crisis Resolved

By Randall E. Osborne, Nancy Baughn and Paul Kriese.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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

The rationale behind the development of a team-taught interdisciplinary (political science and psychology) course was a belief that such students cannot learn to confront and resolve contemporary social problems without engaging in serious self-reflection common in humanities courses. Based on humanities literature, a model to facilitate student progress in being critically self-reflective was developed. 1.) Recitation – state known facts or opinions.
A critical component of this step is to acknowledge what aspect(s) of what is being stated is factual and what is based on opinion. 2.) Exploration – analyze the roots of those opinions or facts.
This step requires digging below the surface of what is believed and working to discover the elements that have combined to result in that fact or that opinion. 3.) Understanding – involves an awareness of other views and a comprehension of the difference(s) between one’s own opinion (and the basis of that opinion) and the opinions of others. 4.) Appreciation – means a full awareness of the differences between our views and opinions and those of others. A course objective was: "Educated persons should have the ability to develop informed opinions, to comprehend, formulate, and critically evaluate ideas, and to identify problems and find solutions to those problems." On end of semester evaluations students assessed all course objectives and provided a rationale for each rating. On a 5-point Likert scale (5 = strongly agree the course facilitated progress), the average rating on this objective was 5. Comments include: 1.) "weekly postings allowed thought from all views, helped (me) to problem solve on a more universal basis, not just personal" 2.) "we had to look for solutions to hate, not just recognize the problem" 3.) "course caused me to become more open to others’ views, not to share necessarily, but to try to understand them".

Keywords: Humanities Model, Critical Thinking, Social Sciences, Self-reflection, Recitation, Exploration, Understanding, Appreciation

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.61-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 523.157KB).

Dr. Randall E. Osborne

Department Chair, Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Randall E. Osborne has been teaching online courses for over a decade. In that time, he has confronted numerous colleagues who have challenged the quality of teaching possible via online courses and has conducted numerous scholarship of teaching projects to illustrate how to: (1) maximize learning in online courses, (2) minimize the challenges of teaching in a non-face-to-face format, (3) take advantage of the unique pedagogical features and nature of online teaching, and (4) to create online courses that facilitate critical thinking and value-added education.

Nancy Baughn

Teaching Assistant, Psychology, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Nancy Baughn has been participating in online courses for six years, both as a student and as a teaching assistant. In that time, she has: (1) explored the unique areas of interpersonal communication among students in online classes, (2) focused on the quality of education the students receive in these classes, and (3) facilitated critical thinking in the non-traditional classroom setting. Nancy is a recent graduate from Texas State University with a degree in criminal justice. Her most recent endeavors are focused towards educational efforts aimed at reducing violent crime and alleviating the effects of victimization in today's society.

Paul Kriese

Associate Professor, Political Science, Indiana University East, Richmond, IN, USA

Paul Kriese has been confronting and challenging racism and hatred since his low socioeconomic status upbringing near the waterfront of Buffalo, New York through his years as a professor of political science. In addition, he is active in local politics and emphasizes the importance and power of service-learning and civic engagement in exposing students to realities different from their own. "We cannot reconstruct an environment of tolerance and inclusiveness," he writes, "unless we teach people to deconstruct the causes of hate in the first place."


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