Eternal Questions. New Answers.
As the world changes with unprecedented speed, disrupting the way we live and work, it’s the liberal arts that help us make sense of it. Challenging our assumptions and biases. Expanding the very nature of truth and knowledge, and where we look for it.
Here are four researchers who are pulling at the threads of conventional wisdom, unraveling paradigms in the arts and sciences. What they’re fashioning instead is a more equitable, accurate, and balanced understanding of ourselves and what we think we know.
Jan Estep, professor of art, explains how her introduction to mindfulness meditation completely changed the way she taught, the way she made art, and the way she made sense of the world. The combination of art and mindfulness has enabled her to help people understand themselves better.
Vincente Diaz, professor of American Indian studies, is originally from Guam, and was drawn to the University of Minnesota partly because of the region’s canoe culture. “The more you learn about voyaging, the more you realize that truth and knowledge are just conventions of certain peoples,” Diaz says.
History professor J.B. Shank believes there is not just one correct way to understand the world. Shank emphasizes this in his historical research, studying artistic ways of approaching science, and vice versa. “Historically, the arts and sciences were not opposites, they were very much entangled,” he says.
Statistics professor Snigdhansu Chatterjee conducts statistical research of “big data,” which he has applied to a myriad of projects ranging from climate change to neurodegenerative diseases. “It’s pretty much the only way you can get any other science to operate,” Chatterjea says.