All for one
Unitypolitical, spiritual, commercialcertainly has its attractions, and the Skidmore faculty indulged in some of the academic kind last May. At an all-day colloquium during senior week, scholars in a range of fields discussed Edward O. Wilsons controversial book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. An eminent scientist and thinker, Wilson calls for consilience (a "jumping together") among the many branches of human knowledge in a concerted search for understanding of the universe and of ourselves.
The Skidmore symposium, organized by anthropologist Gerald Erchak, featured 13 presenters who engaged the audience in debate of such issues as antiscientific attitudes, the relationship of mind to neurobiology, scientific metaphors in economics, approaches to environmental problems, and the roles of culture and evolution. Among the faculty presenters were science librarian Kris Szymborski, affirmative-action officer (and psychologist and artist) Jack T. F. Ling, and University Without Walls advisor (and philosopher) Sarah Stebbins; other speakers included Alyssa Marturano 99 and Jane Pickett 99 (both anthropology majors) and UWW psychology major Dave Burchett.
Along with providing a welcome academic outlet during senior week, the colloquium also servedin a nifty little exercise in consilience all its ownas something of a capstone to the year-long Liberal Studies l experience with Tom Stoppards play Arcadia and also as one more component in the Colleges three-year project to explore artistic and scientific creativity with the help of visiting scholars funded by the Luce Foundation.
That is, its a key ingredient in history education, from grade schools through graduate schools. And last summer, Skidmore helped more than 90 teachers share ideas and techniques as it hosted the sixth international conference on "Computers in the History Classroom."
"It was a wonderful opportunity to see how historians around the world are using new technology tools in their classrooms," says Cornel Reinhart, director of Skidmores University Without Walls. "I was particularly struck by how many of our colleagues are using the Web for teaching and student research projects." The conference was sponsored by UWW (an avid user of distance-learning technologies and online resources) and Special Programs, as well as the Departments of History and American Studies and the Center for Information Technology Services.
The meeting drew teachers from high schools and colleges as far afield as Nigeria, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and across the United States; scores of teachers from the Saratoga area and elsewhere in New York also attended. Participants explored a wide range of computer-based and multimedia learning experiences, tackling such issues as the "demise" of the textbook, historical simulations, "cyber-mentoring," teaching in several countries at once, digital cinema, and 3-D modeling, and covering such subjects as African-American history, life along the Hudson, "on-line Darwin," Scottish history, Colonial Albany, and non-Western art history. The teachers also got a chance to stretch their legs on a guided tour of Saratogas Revolutionary War battlefield with Professor Emeritus of Art History James Kettlewell.
Skidmore has received a $100,000 grant from the Starr Foundation of New York City to help endow the Porter Presidential Scholarships in math and science.
The scholarshipsnamed for Skidmores recently retired fifth president, David Porterare awarded each year to five incoming students who show exceptional strength in biology, chemistry, computer science, exercise physiology, geology, mathematics, physics, or psychology. Each scholarship is worth $40,000, or $10,000 per year for four years. One Porter Scholar each year is also designated a Marjorie Keenoy 44 Merit Scholar.
The freshman Porter Scholars this year are Lauren Terwilliger, Natalia Veytsel, Jason Lowenstein, Ky Nguyen, and Christopher Tom. Porter Scholars need not major in math or science but are expected to engage in research and related activities; each also automatically becomes a member of Skidmores Honors Forum.
The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr (founder of American International Assurance Company), to provide funds for higher-education, health, cultural, and social services. This is Skidmores second Starr grant: in 1992, the College received $50,000 to support Chinese studies.
The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery wont officially open until next fall, but its already open online 24 hours a day.
The museums Web site has been designed by graphic artist Christopher Geiser 97 to reflect the striking look of the facility and its publicity materials. Among the sites dynamic features are a live "WebCam"situated precariously in the construction zone, the video camera sends an updated image of the builders progress every 15 minutes. There is also text about the construction project and a message from the Dayton Director of the Tang, Charles Stainback.
Like the Tang itself, the Web site will be evolving and developing. Plans include a virtual gallery for Skidmores permanent art collection, previews of exhibits, and "web companions" to the exhibits once the museum opens.
The Tangs web site is just a click away.