Advanced Computer Applications for The New Liberal Arts
The ultimate goal of the grant from the Sloan Foundation to Carnegie Mellon University was to promote the quality and use of advanced computing in liberal arts education; an instrumental goal was to establish a resource center for doing so. The establishment of a research and development center was central to the project: to build a 'critical mass' of technical and academic expertise to provide a strategic vision for enhancing the 'new' liberal arts through advanced technology.
In this context, the New Liberal Arts is meant simply to emphasize the full spectrum of modern arts and sciences: quantitative, technological and computer literacy as well as the qualitative, humanistic understandings traditionally associated with a liberal arts education. This broader understanding of the liberal arts has been emphasized at Carnegie Mellon from the beginning.
The projects supported under the Sloan Foundation grant encompass the sciences, mathematics and the fine arts as well as the humanities and social sciences -- with a keen eye to the need for computer literacy and innovative computer applications in the more traditional liberal arts as well as the more technical and quantitative disciplines. Our projects address the needs of general science education as well as formal and quantitative work in traditional humanistic fields such as philosophy and history. We have also applied computer technology in striking and perhaps surprising ways to humanistic fields such as ethics and aesthetics -- where neither formal theory nor quantitative apparatus typically apply, but where rigorous methods of evidentiary analysis and hypothesis testing must prevail nonetheless.