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How can our human world exist and best flourish embedded in the physical universe? An outline of a problem-based liberal studies course

Maxwell, N; (2014) How can our human world exist and best flourish embedded in the physical universe? An outline of a problem-based liberal studies course. On the Horizon , 22 (1) 35 - 45. 10.1108/OTH-11-2013-0043. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper I sketch a Liberal Studies Course designed to explore our fundamental problem of thought and life: How can our human world exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the physical universe? The fundamental character of this problem provides one with the opportunity to explore a wide range of issues. What does physics tell us about the universe and ourselves? How do we account for everything physics leaves out? How can living brains be conscious? If everything occurs in accordance with physical law, what becomes of free will? How does Darwin's theory of evolution contribute to the solution to the fundamental problem? What is the history of thought about this problem? What is of most value associated with human life? What kind of civilized world should we seek to help create? Why is the fundamental problem not a part of standard education in schools and universities? What are the most serious global problems confronting humanity? Can humanity learn to make progress towards as good a world as possible? These are some of the questions that can be tackled as an integral part of exploring the fundamental problem. But the Course does not merely wander at random from one issue to another. Taking the fundamental problem as central provides the Course with a coherent structure. The Course would be conducted as a seminar, and it would respond to queries and suggestions from students.

Type: Article
Title: How can our human world exist and best flourish embedded in the physical universe? An outline of a problem-based liberal studies course
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1108/OTH-11-2013-0043
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/OTH-11-2013-0043
Language: English
Additional information: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Keywords: Liberal studies, Education, Problem-based education, Physical universe, Human world, Science, Humanities, Rationality, Inter-disciplinarity
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1424340
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