Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rethinking Interdisciplinarity: Bridging the Rift

Workshop on the Interface of the Sciences & the Humanities
When | 18-19 May 2016
Where | The National Institute of Technology, Silchar
With the increasing formalization of knowledge, higher education and pedagogy have inherited a separation between the study of the ‘natural worlds’ (Naturwissenchaften), which is material/biotic, and that of the ‘world of humans’ (Sozial/Geistes-wissenchaften). As a result, these two domains have developed as two insulated and divorced bodies of knowledge systems. Again, the ‘natural world’ is further separated into natural sciences and technology, while the ‘world of humans’ diverge into humanities and the social sciences. However, this natural/human science binary, and more generally speaking, the dyadic logic in the taxonomy of knowledge system are typical products of post-Enlightenment/ Rationalist Western modernity (cf. Descartes, Kant) and have no resonance whatsoever in the context of the ‘pre-modern’ non-West (say, for example, Greece, Persia, Arab, India). How we study our world is often grounded in systems of values and beliefs emergent from our dispositions. Family structure, religion, state politics, economics, social class etc. among other things shape these systems of value, the very ‘paradigms’ upon which choose our objects and frame our methods of inquiries. The point, therefore, is to re-visit and understand these separations, rather the premise upon which these separations are valued, and situate them in history and context, and in so doing, rethink how this new (interdisciplinary) understanding may contribute towards transforming how we perceive the world, not as a fractured entity but as an organic whole.

Invoking ‘modern’ Science’s reliance on non-empirical/’fictional’ stuff – think of, say, the String Theory among others – the workshop questions the fundamental value system that renders possible the divorce between the Sciences & the Humanities based on dyadic values. The fact/value, analytical/perceptive, objective/subjective, nature/culture binaries retain the disciplinary separation, although these obscure a holistic vision toward an(y) ‘object of study’. The workshop intends to probe into issues of subjectivity and social constructivism in the Sciences (cf. Poincare), and in light of the separatist worldview in the realm of pedagogy, insist on the need for a genuinely integrationist model instead.
Prof. Sasheej Hegde, University of Hyderabad and Dr. Esha Shah, ex-faculty Maastricht University, Netherlands have generously agreed to serve as resource persons for the workshop. We invite submission of abstracts, not exceeding 300 words, relevant to the theme of the workshop. The following pointers, which are by no means exhaustive, might help you frame the abstract.
  • Scientific Fiction & Literary Reality (cf. Sundar Sarukkai)
  • Alternative Sciences (cf. Ashis Nandy)
  • Science, Technology & Augmented Reality
  • Historicism in Science & Techno-determinism
  • Science as Narrative
  • Science, State & Ideology
  • Mathematicization of Science/Technology
  • Models and Reductionism
  • Science/Technology & the Anthropocene
Abstracts should be sent to by 28 March 2016 with the subject heading ‘Abstract for the Interdisciplinarity Workshop’. Authors of the selected abstracts ONLY will be notified by 5 April 2016. The venue for the workshop is NIT Silchar. The institute will not be able to offer accommodation for or travel support to the participants. However, select presenters may qualify for contributing to an edited anthology on the same theme. There is no registration fee for the workshop.
Non-presenters who want to participate/audit are very welcome and should send their expression of interest to by 8 May 2016. Participation certificates will be issued to all participants (presenters and non-presenters alike).
Reaching NIT Silchar: NIT, Silchar, located on the Silchar-Hailakandi road, just 8 kms off the Silchar town. To reach NIT, Silchar campus, one has to first reach Silchar which has direct flight connections with Kolkata, Guwahati and Imphal; and direct train connections with Kolkata and Delhi via Guwahati. By road, Silchar is well connected with nearly all major cities in the North-east.