Friday, September 9, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
I am often asked about S&T’s foundational educational programs from the early years of our institution, which was founded in 1870 as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (MSM). There are no surprises, of course, when I mention our mining, metallurgy, geology and engineering programs. But when I mention our early humanities and social sciences curricula, people are surprised. Yes, humanities courses were offered as early as 1872, as Lawrence O. Christensen and Jack B. Ridley point out in their history of the campus. According to the minutes of a Sept. 16, 1878, faculty meeting, further changes were made in the preparatory course of study for “pupils who came from the higher classes of the public schools … to so broaden the foundations” for “the future work of those who shall hereafter apply for the Degrees conferred by the School of Mines.”
Today, the scholarly and artistic work of our faculty in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education (CASE) is deep and broad-based. This scholarship ranges from the ethics of agribusiness and the global food supply chain to studies on the impact of music on memory, to how certain insecticides affect monarch butterflies, to communicating through video games and etymological research so renowned it was once a clue on the game show Jeopardy!
In an upcoming event of historic proportions, our faculty in CASE and the Center for Arts and Innovation, in collaboration with our Curtis Laws Wilson Library, will provide our students and the public a unique opportunity to learn more about an important part of history by hosting the traveling exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust, from Sunday, Sept. 18, to Saturday, Oct. 22. The exhibition is provided by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and creates the opportunity to examine the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.
While the exhibition will provide a tremendous tool for deepening our understanding, S&T is also offering several presentations and guest lectures about the Holocaust and related topics during this period. These include presentations by our own faculty, a poetry reading, a hands-on workshop and a presentation by Holocaust survivor Rachel Miller. The presentations and readings by our distinguished faculty members and guests will offer a rich portfolio of scholarly work on the topic.
In addition, Missouri S&T Archives and the State Historical Society of Missouri-Rolla Research Center is sponsoring a supplementary exhibition titled “Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman Sounds a Warning – Missourians and the Holocaust.” Rabbi Isserman traveled to pre-World War II Germany several times and reported back to Missourians and our campus about the rising danger he found.
In addition to world-class STEM educators and researchers, S&T’s extraordinary faculty members in the humanities are likewise world-class scholars. History professors Shannon Fogg, John McManus and Petra DeWitt, each of whom will present as part of the Americans and the Holocaust exhibition, are truly stars in their respective research specialties. And in the process of performing cutting-edge research, from the early days of our existence, our faculty in the humanities, liberal arts and social sciences have helped integrate their disciplines with the sciences and engineering. They have helped our engineers and scientists who design, develop and implement ever-more-powerful tools and devices to contemplate and consider the human dimension of their work and products. Research by our ethics faculty helps us understand and regulate trade performed by algorithms, understand and articulate our responsibilities toward technologies we develop, and nurture our awareness of the nontechnical dimensions of our work.
As humanities professor Lisa M. Dolling wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “…to help students succeed professionally and personally, teach the art of being human.” And our humanities faculty have done just that from the dawn of our existence.
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