(Reprinted from Corriere Delle Sera, link below)

Image: LSE Library, from "Messaggio da Londra: più scienze sociali e arti," Corierre Della Sera

The London School of Economics (LSE) sends an important message to universities around the world. For many years, the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have become separated from the humanities, social sciences, and arts. These have been progressively marginalized in STEM schools, university curricula, and research plans. We need to reverse this trend and rethink some established paradigms according to this prestigious English institution, which coined an acronym (SHAPE): that is, “Social sciences, Humanities, and Arts for People and the Economy”.

In the formation of the governments of tomorrow, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literature, and art history must be given a different emphasis. These fields of study must not only be defended, they must be reevaluated with the perspective of a radical rearrangement of the map of contemporary culture. They contain irreplaceable, necessary knowledge; more important than we ever realized before. They also help to bring out vital layers in the various categories of other fields. The social sciences, humanities, and arts allow us to critically interpret the conflicts underlying our world. They reveal the roots of some current phenomena. Finally, they can make us imagine a different arrangement of things and new ways to go, leading us to the threshold between the present and the possible.

The hope of the LSE is that it will finally overcome the, now anachronistic, conflict between humanities and technologies. That, in the immediate future, they will have to redefine their statutes, strengthen each other, engage in dialogue, confront each other – all without challenging each other. In this way, I draw attention to the perennial relevance of the great lesson of Humanism, the first and ambitious attempt to combine the arts and sciences: humanities and technologies.

 

You’re welcome to read the original article, in Italian, by Vincenzo Trione, published in Corriere Delle Sera on July 27, 2020.