Teaching Science and Mathematics as Liberal Arts

The dominant model for science and mathematics education does not always integrate well with a classical approach. The disconnect results from a set of assumptions about mathematics, science, and educational methodology passed down to us by a modernist worldview. I will talk briefly about the formation of those assumptions and propose a different view of the nature, limitations, and goals of both science and mathematics. This alternate view recognizes science and mathematics as liberal arts more in keeping with classical education.
I contend that the first step toward pursuing science and mathematics as liberal arts is to explore their history and philosophy. Both the content and the methods of science and mathematics developed out of a rich cultural context with strong philosophical commitments. That context formed and was informed by the discoveries and developments of science and mathematics (with the geometry of the Greeks being a prime example). By looking at historical and philosophical context, students can gain a deeper understanding about how science and mathematics actually work and thereby come to appreciate the nature of this quintessentially human endeavor of understanding our world.

Dr. Chris Swanson

Chris Swanson, president and tutor at Gutenberg, was one of the men who began planning Gutenberg College a few years before it opened in 1994. Prior to that he taught at the University of Oregon, Bushnell University, and Westmont College (his alma mater). He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oregon. He became Gutenberg College’s second president in 2016. Chris believes that Gutenberg’s discussion-based approach helps students to retain far more of the material than do other teaching methods. He also values the Christian commitment shared by the faculty because it provides a forum for pursuing truth as students form their worldview. Chris primarily teaches mathematics and the sciences, but he also greatly enjoys tutoring in the humanities.