How does one quantify humanities education on democracy?
This is the task before Andrew Perrin, Professor of Sociology. Perrin is a Faculty Fellow (2007) and Academic Leadership Fellow (2010). He just finished a Faculty Fellowship in Spring 2016, where he researched humanities education and its impact on citizenship.
During the fellowship, Perrin learned from faculty in the humanities, which helped with his project.
“Humanities mode of thinking is unique. It really values complexity,” says Perrin. “It’s a very different way of thinking from STEM scholars and social science scholars.” It is these mechanisms that have compelled Perrin to look at “how scholarship and humanities would contribute to democratic citizenship.”
Perrin engages in public discourse, often writing for various media outlets through op-eds and blogs. He encourages his colleagues to share their knowledge. His advice: Find the balance between audience and tone. He understands that academics have highly specialized knowledge but that the public is hungry for “smart discussion, interesting points, things that sort of change the game.”
“Yes, you need to make it somewhat simpler but don’t assume that your audience is so stupid that you lose the real core complexity of the work that you’re doing.”
From the Institute for the Arts and Humanities Podcast Series, which interviews current and former Fellows of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities about their work in teaching, service and research. Listen to more podcasts here.