MIT Concourse - The Integrated Approach
"The world is much more interesting than any one discipline."
What is an integrated approach?
Concourse is animated by the conviction that educating the best minds of tomorrow requires countering the prevailing - and growing - fragmentation and hyper-specialization of the American university. While specialization is absolutely necessary for the sake of advanced study and success in the many fields at which MIT excels, it is not enough. To be truly educated, and to fulfill our real potential as scholars, it is not enough to know many things, or to be able to do many things, valuable as that may be. We actually have to know what those things are good for (how they nourish life and well-being), and it is the humanistic disciplines that school us for those questions.
Concourse's integrated approach will deepen your understanding of modern science by reexamining the foundations on which it is built. By studying the great tradition of Western philosophy and literature that preceded, accompanied and followed the establishment of modern science, we discover that it was born as a broad, integrated project offering a comprehensive account of all knowledge, a new conception of human nature, and a plan to reform intellectual and political life. It is an overall conception by which we are unconsciously shaped today. To avoid living the unexamined life, the life of the "near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses," we must return to the great books that transcend our fragmented disciplines. Only then can we shape our world deliberately and wisely rather than be simply shaped by it.
How can science benefit from an integrated approach?
Science and its powerful offspring, modern technology, have generated extraordinary benefits for mankind, but these benefits are not without complications. Astonishing advances in physics, medicine and energy have also produced devastating weapons and the specter of environmental destruction. Concourse aims to prepare the top scientists, engineers, architects, scholars, innovators, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow to address these questions thoughtfully by studying the work of those who have sought a comprehensive understanding of human life and the proper ordering of human goods.
Examining these foundational works also teaches us that modern science rests on certain presuppositions about what it means to know something. What are these presuppositions, and how do they limit our science? We learn from the books we study that modern science differs from an older science by being primarily concerned with what works. Thoughtful human beings, however, need to ask what the relation is between what works and a genuine knowledge of nature. The founders of modern science had greater clarity than we commonly do today about what science can and cannot tell us about nature. We aim to recover that clarity for ourselves through our study of foundational works.