A reason to go back to 1984.

To George Orwell’s novel? Perhaps. Secret trials in the name of national security! This pandemic used, in the name of ‘flexibility’, to undermine the conditions of workers?

No! A cry from the heart. Professor Arthur Peacocke, Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. When and where?  In Australia, at the celebration of the Silver Jubilee Conference of the Australian College of Education in Canberra, May 5th – 9th 1984. His subject? On being humanly and scientifically educated. His contribution to the overall theme. The Human Face of Technological Change.

Remember. We were well into that damned ‘two cultures’ divide by 1984.

What Professor Peacocke was observing in 1984 in the UK resonates with me in 2020?

Under the heading Science and Technology as Human Explorations, writing of the role of imagination and intuition in making a new creative synthesis, Professor Peacocke made this suggestion. And here come the questions. ‘Might not the whole atmosphere of the relation between the sciences and the humanities be transformed if the sciences were, once again, to be conceived as an aspect of human culture. as implied by their old-fashioned designation as ‘natural philosophy’? And might not this attitude of exploration be partly conveyed, more than hitherto, by introducing young people – by history, biography and autobiography – to the mental and spiritual journeys of key non-scientific figures in the life of humanity, as well as to the lives and thought processes of central, formative figures in scientific revolutions, such as Newton. Darwin and Einstein?’  Those are his questions.

Now! And listen to his change in tone. ‘Surely this would be better than the enormity that has disfigured the introduction of information technology to young people in my own country, at least, namely, the obscenity that this has occurred almost entirely through computer games centred entirely on violent conquest. Or, to put it another way (and as Socrates might have said today):

Until humanists are technologists, or the scientists and technologists of this

world have the spirit and power of the humanities, and technological greatness

 and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either or

the other, are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils –

no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a

possibility of life and behold the light of day.’   (cf. Plato,  Republic, V) [p. 94]

 In 2020, we separate STEM as though it has nothing to do with HASS in the acronym-based national Australian curriculum. We know about the dangers in this separation. Totally mechanistic. No interest in human consequences.  Here, while the pandemic rages, we have fossil-fuel lobbyists pushing oil, gas and still coal! The world has technologists, owners of great Internet organisations, ignoring questions of ethics and morality. In Australia, the Coalition government intends to increase the cost of a humanities degree by 113%. That is an obscenity! We have computer games of violent conquest. On television, The Game of Thrones!

Evils facing the human race? Might they not only be the exponential rate of global warming? Might they not include the idea of spending on armaments as part of an economic ‘rescue’? In 2020, our Treasurer says he will follow Reagan! How much did Reagan spend on ‘Star Wars’?

The Pilbara – Macquarie University

Moving away from the evils facing the human race, to other human explorations. Back to Robyn Williams and our ABC Radio National Science Show –  And ‘NASA in the Pilbara, WA.’ There is more to this episode besides space travel. ‘The Pilbara, situated in the north of Western Australia, is like nowhere else on Earth.  This is why NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists travelled to there to train for their Mars 2020 missions that will specifically search for life on the red planet.Sep 3, 2019.’ NASA scientists have travelled to the Pilbara to find out more …

Bridging the worlds of science and the humanities.

The Lewis Thomas Award for the Scientist as Poet.

That is the reason behind the International Lewis Thomas Award for Writing About Science, an annual literary prize awarded by The Rockefeller University[1] to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes “scientists as poets.” Originally called the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet, it honors individuals who bridge the worlds of science and the humanities. Winners of the Lewis Thomas Prize are celebrated for their ability to express science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing new information and inspiring reflection.

Thanks to our ABC we had the pleasure of listening to Dr Sylvia Earle, a recipient of the  Lewis Thomas Award.

Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: A Journey Down The … – ABC iview

iview.abc.net.au › show › australia-s-ocean-odyssey-a-j…

Our wonderful, publicly-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation and our CSIRO produced this outstanding documentary. Australia’s Ocean Odyssey describes the life of the eastern ocean current from the Great Barrier Reef to the Antarctic. And the impact of global warming on the source of life in the current! We are seeing just what our east current does. Unfortunately, at the same time as we have been watching this documentary, the Australian government is undermining connections by putting the humanities out of the reach of many.

We had the pleasure of seeing and hearing the voice of Dr Sylvia Earle, a great oceanographer. She was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize in 2017. She showed us the importance of marine conservation here.

Dr Sylvia Earle – (photo by Todd Brown)

‘Dr Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence. She has led more than 100 ocean expeditions around the world and pioneered the development of deep-ocean technology, including research submarines. Known internationally as a speaker, author, and advocate for marine conservation, Earle conducts field and laboratory studies that have led to the discovery of new plant and animal species and to the identification of new deep-water ecosystems.’ ‘To understand the oceans, science needs and benefits from great explorers,’ says Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and chairman of the Lewis Thomas Prize selection committee. ‘Sylvia Earle is one of the most important ocean explorers of the last 50 years, and she brings a spirit of inspiration to everything she does. Her writing has inspired people to pursue careers in ocean science and in conservation, and she’s an enormously effective advocate for creating marine-protected areas in the U.S. and around the world.’ We heard from Dr Earle and Australia’s dedicated men and women of science trying to help us realise what we have. [I include Sylvia Earle’s global mission here.]

About Mission Blue – Mission Blue

mission-blue.org › about

BUT, when, in educational terms, we are learning the vital importance of connections. why, in Australia, has our Coalition government decided to separate the sciences from the humanities in this way?  This Coalition government intends to make Australia’s humanities students pay 113% more for their degrees while they decrease the fees for science students And they are to pay this exorbitant amount so there is no cost – ‘zero impact’ – on this government’s budget!

STEM not STEAM. This is the madness facing us ‘down under’.

Why would an Australian government decide to punish those who study the humanities?

Thanks to our ABC and our CSIRO, with Sylvia Earle in our homes, we felt the wonder of how the tiniest life, upwelling, influences cloud and rain. And we saw what happens when oceans are warming! We saw the sea grasses. Grasses that flower in the sea. We saw how the sea grasses are threatened. Scientists as poets, who receive the Lewis Thomas Award, are being acknowledged as great educators.