DSL: Doing Science through Literature

A pragmatic ally and complement to STEM courses, DSL brings together medical humanities, environmental humanities, and digital humanities to argue for a broad-based approach to science literacy, the work of humanists as much as scientists. By “science literacy,” we have in mind not so much knowledge of specific scientific facts as a set of cognitive skills, an ability to recognize a problem and investigate it, exploring a range of explanations and options, and marshaling enough evidence to make an informed choice, based on mistakes as well as discoveries, and incorporating both into the learning process. Understood in these terms, science literacy is by no means the exclusive outcome of STEM courses. The platform for cultivating it needs to be diversified; contributions from allied disciplines need to be explored.  We argue that story-reading and storytelling are a crucial part of this effort, a low-cost and easily available guide to the science necessary for the twenty-first century: the science of food and nutrition, sickness and health; the science of climate change, of rising sea levels, floods and droughts, and pandemics; as well as the science of online media and digital data. Rather than seeing literature and science as hide-bound and mutually exclusive, we think of the two as symbiotic, cross-fertilizing, and input-bearing in both directions.  Just as science could potentially enrich literature, literary study could potentially serve as an interactive forum for science, piquing the students’ curiosity while stimulating them through hands-on participation and trial-and-error experimentation in virtual worlds they can inhabit.  Useful to four-year colleges, community colleges, high schools, as well as lifelong learning, DSL creates a common ground between education at different levels, and reaches out to hospitals, senior centers, community groups, as well as prisons.

Our team:

Amherst College (Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Center for Community Engagement)
U of Arizona (Alan Weisman, Institute of the Environment, author, The World Without Us)
Boston College
 (Mary CraneAmy Boesky, Director, Program in Medical Humanities)
Boston University (Adriana Cracium; Anna Henchman, DUS, English DepartmentMaurice Lee, Chair, English Department)
Bowdoin College (Samia Rahimtoola, Environmental StudiesTess Chakkalakal; Aaron Kitch, Chair, English Department)
Brandeis U (John Plotz, Caren Irr, Chair, English Department)
Brigham Young U (Matthew Wickman, Director, Humanities Center; Brian Roberts)
Caltech (Cindy Weinstein, Vice Provost)
UC Berkeley (Miryam Sas, Chair, Comparative Literature)
UCLA (Elizabeth DeLoughreyUrsula Heise, Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityCarrie Hyde; Ali Behdad, Chair, English Department)
UC Santa Barbara (Ken Hiltner, Director, Environmental Humanities Initiative)
U of Chicago (James Chandler, Director, Franke Institute for the Humanities
Edgar Garcia; Julie OrlemanskiRichard Jean So, Patrick Jagoda, co-founder, GCC Design Lab, co-editor, Critical Inquiry)
Choate Rosemary Hall School (Stephen Siperstein)
U of Colorado, Denver (Philip Joseph, founder, Colorado Center for Public Humanities)
Columbia U (Rita Charon, Director, Narrative Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons; Matt Sandler, Director, American Studies; Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science, Department of Sociology)
Dartmouth College (Colleen Glenney Boggs, CHCI Medical Humanities Network)
U of Delaware (Martin Brückner, Associate Director, Center for Material Culture Studies)
Duke U  (Priscilla Wald, editor, American Literature; Katherine HaylesDeborah Jenson, affiliated faculty, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Director, Franklin Humanities Institute)
Harvard U (David Shumway Jones, History of Science & Harvard Medical School; Arthur Kleinman, Anthropology & Harvard Medical School; Daniel Schrag, Director, Program on Science, Technology, and SocietyJames Engell, Center for the Environment; Deidre Lynch; Jennifer Schnepf, writer, Public Books;  Julie Buckler, Director of the Humanities, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced StudyKaren Thornber, Director, Asia CenterDirector, Harvard Global Institute; Matthew Battles, Associate Director, metaLab; Jeffrey Schnapp, director, metaLAB;  co-director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society)
College of Idaho (Rochelle Johnson, Indian Creek Revitalization Project)

U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Melissa Littlefield, project leader, Network for Neuro- Cultures;  Andrew GaedtkeRobert Dale Parker; Jodi Byrd; Justine Murison; Ted UnderwoodRobert Markley, President, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts)
U of Iowa (Ed Folsom, co-director, Walt Whitman Archive)
Kenyon College (Jesse Matz, Chair, English Department)

Louisiana State U (Lauren Coats)
U of Maryland (Martha Nell Smith, founding director, Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities)
McGill U (Merve Emre)
McKinsey & Co (Kyle Hutzler, writer, Huffington Post)

MIT (Wyn KelleyMary Fuller, Head, Literature Section)
Modern Language Association (Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director)
U of Nebraska (Ken Price, Co-director, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities)
U of New Mexico (Jesse Alemán, summer faculty, Bread Loaf School)
U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Jane Thrailkill, Director, Program in Literature, Medicine and Culture)
Northeastern U (Hillary Chute)

U of Notre Dame (Laura Dassow Walls, Reilly Center for Science and Technology)

Ohio State University (Andrea Williams; Frederick AldamaJim Phelan, editor, Narrative;  Jared Gardner, Director, Popular Culture Studies;  Scott DeWitt, Vice Chair, Rhetoric, Composition, and LiteracyDebra Moddelmog, Chair, English Department)
U of Oregon (Stephanie LeMenager)

U of Pennsylvania (Paul K. St. Amour, Rethinking Graduate Programs, ACLS; Heather LoveBethany Wiggin, Director, Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities)
Penn State U (Hester Blum, President, C19)
Princeton U (Rob Nixon, Princeton Environmental Institute; Anne McClintock, Program in Gender and Sexuality StudiesSarah Rivett, DGS; Diana Fuss, Associate Chair, Bill Gleason, Chair, English Department; Susan Stewart, Director, Society of Fellows)
Rowan University ((Ted Howell, founder, Teaching Cli-fi))
Rutgers U (Andrew Goldstone)

Stanford U  (Mark McGurl, writer, LA Review of BooksMichaela BronsteinBlakey Vermeule, DGS, English DepartmentRobert Pogue Harrison, host, “Entitled Opinions,” KZSU 90.1)
U of Texas at Austin (Matt Cohen, founder, Cohen Lab)
U of Texas at Arlington (Stacy Alaimo, Director, Environmental and Sustainability Studies)

U of Utah (Matthew Potolsky)
Vanderbilt U (Ifeoma Nwankwo, Director, American Studies; Haerin Shin; Jay Clayton, Director, Curb Center)
Vassar College (Hua Hsu, writer, New Yorker)

U of Virginia (Jennifer Wicke)
U of Washington (Kathleen Woodward, Director, Simpson Center for the Humanities; Eric Ames, Chair, Comparative Literature)
Washington U, St. Louis (Steven Meyer)
Wellesley College (Anjali Prabhu, Director, Newhouse Center for the Humanities)
West Virginia University (Stephanie Foote, founder and editor, Resilience: A Journal of Environmental Humanities)
U of Wisconsin (Theresa KelleySusan Stanford Friedman, Director, Institute for Research in the Humanities)
Yale U (Wai Chee Dimock, incoming editor, PMLA;  E.C. Schroeder, Director, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript LibraryRichard Deming, Director, Yale Creative Writing; Catherine DeRose, Engagement and Outreach Manager, Digital Humanities LabLeslie Harkema, DUS, Spanish and Portuguese; Timothy BrownMary Evelyn Tucker, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Richard Prum, Director, Franke Program in Science and the Humanities)

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