Tag: liberal arts

Making connections: Intersection of liberal arts, brain research explored in new lecture series

The intersection between the liberal arts and emerging technologies that reveal new answers for the way the human brain functions will be the basis for a new speaker series at Lawrence University.

Over the course of the next eight months, five national experts will explore how brain research is connected to various areas of the liberal arts, including religious studies, music, art and literature.

Edward-Vessel_newsblog
Edward Vessel

The series, “Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain,” will incorporate the interdisciplinary areas of neuroscience and cognitive science to create connections with other disciplines at Lawrence by examining questions such as whether the brain processes literary fiction differently than formula fiction or how perception, emotion and cognitive processing impact creative expression.

Edward Vessel, director of the New York University ArtLab and a noted research scientist at NYU’s Center for Brain Imaging, opens the series Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m in Steitz Hall of Science 102 with the presentation “Art and Neuroesthetics.”  A question-and-answer session follows. The event is free and open to the public.

The emerging field of neuroaesthetics uses neuroscience to study art to determine why certain works of art produce an emotional response. Through the use of neural imaging, Vessel will share recent research that focuses on understanding the basis for how people derive pleasure and inspiration from various art forms and how this may be related to learning, motivation and well-being.

“With the advent of new brain imaging technologies we are able to get better and deeper glimpses of a working brain,” said Nancy Wall, associate professor of biology and of the series’ organizers. “These glimpses not only help us learn how brain function engenders humanistic endeavors but also how such endeavors influence and shape brain function. Or, put another way, ‘this is your brain, this is your brain on the liberal arts.’

“One of the goals of this series is to engage faculty and students across all liberal arts disciplines with what we’re learning about how a brain works,” Wall added, “and with this shared knowledge find new ways to collaborate to enhance liberal learning at Lawrence.”

“This is your brain, this is your brain on the liberal arts.”
— Professor Nancy Wall

Joining Vessel on the series schedule are:

  • Richard Davidson, William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oct. 29, 11:10 a.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

One of the nation’s leading experts on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style,  Davidson will discuss the ways people can change their brains by cultivating habits of mind that will improve well-being, including happiness, resilience, compassion and emotional balance.

  • Darya Zabelina, post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University, February, 2016.Zabelina’s presentation will examine the neural aspects of creativity. Her research focuses on ways of enhancing and fostering the development of creative thinking and problem-solving ability.
  • John Iverson, associate project scientist at University of California-San Diego’s Institute for Neural Computation. February 2016.

A cognitive neuroscientist, Iverson will discuss his research on rhythm perception and production in music and language, work that spans behavioral and neuroscience approaches. He is currently overseeing a study of the effect of music training on children’s brain and cognitive development.

  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the department of philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. April 12, 2016.

The author of five books and more than 100 published articles, Sinnott-Armstrong is a scholar of moral psychology and brain science, which his presentation will focus on, as well as uses of neuroscience in the legal system.

The “Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain” lecture series is supported by a $20,500 grant from the New York City-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Enhanced Curriculum: Lawrence participating in $335,000 project to develop hybrid courses

Lawrence University and five other liberal arts institutions are embarking on a project to collaboratively develop and teach new hybrid courses. The project, “Hybrid Liberal Arts Network: High Touch Learning for the 21st Century,” is supported by a $335,000 grant from the New York City-based Teagle Foundation.

Teagle-Grant_picket_newsblogWorking together as the Midwest Hybrid Learning Consortium — Lawrence, Albion College, DePauw University, Grinnell College, Hope College and Wabash College — the six-member alliance will combine the best of classroom teaching with digital technology to try new approaches involving online learning.

“We are very pleased to be part of this group working on hybrid courses,” said David Burrows, Lawrence provost and dean of the faculty. “One of the great challenges of the digital revolution is making use of the power of technology to enhance the goals of liberal education. We want our students to develop skills of analysis, problem solving, creativity and understanding ambiguity. These are abilities that require human interaction. If well-constructed, hybrid courses can combine the use of technology with the enrichment of human dialogue, leading to effective liberal learning.”

The project will see teams of faculty from across a wide range of disciplines from each of the institutions cooperatively developing hybridized courses over the rest of 2015, beginning with a workshop this summer. The new courses will be traditional face-to-face classroom offerings, not online courses, although they may incorporate some online components

The first new courses are scheduled to be offered in the spring semester of 2016 with additional new courses introduced in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017.

David Berk, director of instructional technology at Lawrence said technology offers so many opportunities “to engage students in new ways.”

“This project will allow faculty to explore new instructional methods such as the flipped classroom to deliver content online and enrich the face-to-face experience with new forms of team-based learning,” said Berk, a member of the grant’s implementation leadership team.

“We already have faculty that are beginning to dabble in these areas. This grant will take those experiments to the next level by supporting a series of workshops for faculty to share course materials and activities and to develop a common set of best practices that are proven to work well within the residential liberal arts experience.”

Lawrence associate professors Adam Galamobos, economics, David Hall, chemistry, and Martyn Smith, religious studies, were involved in crafting the grant and likely will be involved in the development of the new courses.

Joining Berk on the grant’s implementation leadership team will be Barry Bandstra, director of academic computing and a professor of religion, Hope College; James Brown, professor of physics, Wabash College; David Lopatto, professor of psychology, Grinnell College; Donnie Sendelbach, director of instructional and learning services, DePauw University; and John Woell, associate provost and professor of religion, Albion College.

Founded in 1944, the Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education though innovation in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.