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Faculty Forum Papers

January 1976 - Whither CLA? By

Stephen J. Hawkes
Department of Chemistry

December 24, 1975


    I am flattered that Professor Sprinker attributes such sophisticated motives to my misgivings on the role of an improved College of Liberal Arts. I must, however, disown them. My reasoning lies with the particular benefits of his proposals to OSU.

    I am prepared to believe with both Professor Hovland (October issue) and Professor Sprinker (December issue) that critical dialogue between humanists (I am grateful to Professor Daniels for correcting my nomenclature) and technologists is at least desirable and perhaps necessary but it remains to be shown
(a) that such dialogue should take place at OSU

(b) that such dialogue would take place at OSU if the College of Liberal Arts were strengthened

(c) that the benefit of having it specifically on this campus would be proportional to the expense of producing it.

    It should be easy to prove that it would occur. If the coexistence of well-supported colleges of science and liberal arts on the same campus leads inevitably to useful dialog between their faculties on the socio-technological issues discussed by Professor Hovland, then presumably this is going on at almost every university in the world and a vast literature must be emerging. Is Professor Hovland's reference to Pirsig an example of this? If so, I am unimpressed.

     If such a mass of discussion and literature is occurring there is no advantage to humanity or to Oregon's taxpayers in adding to the volume. Rather it should provide encouragement to other pursuits where some original contribution might be made. If there is no such volume of dialogue at other universities, then improving OSU's capability in the liberal arts will probably not produce it either.

    In neither case does the possibility of discussion between OSU's scientists and it humanists provide reason for further inroads into our limited tax resources.