Science should be appreciated in all forms, not just as “pure” academics.
Often, when we dive into the realms of STEM, there’s this prevailing notion that what we’re delving into is somehow superior to the so-called “soft” sciences like psychology, or the social sciences, such as history. It’s easy to see where this idea comes from. STEM subjects can be daunting with their intense focus on quantifiable data and rigorous testing, not exactly welcoming to discussion.
However, it’s essential to step back and see the broader picture. Each field of study, whether deemed hard or soft, holds its own unique charm and significance. As someone knee-deep in engineering coursework, I’ve had my fair share of late-night study sessions and exam anxieties. But amidst the chaos, I’ve found a sense of appreciation for the other disciplines that explore the human experience from a different lens.
I’m not alone in my appreciation, some of the greatest minds shared my curiosity for the social sciences and the study of human behaviour. Albert Einstein, a name synonymous with genius in the realms of physics, in his essay “Why Socialism?” published in 1949, sheds light on his thoughts about society and human nature, showing a curiosity that extended beyond the formulas and theories of physics.
And then there’s E.O. Wilson, a biologist who saw the beauty in bridging the gap between the sciences. His 1998 book titled “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge” is a testament to his belief that all knowledge, irrespective of the discipline, could come under a single umbrella of understanding. Wilson’s idea of “consilience” opens up a dialogue about how combining the insights from both ends of the scientific spectrum can lead to a richer understanding of complex problems.
Now, bringing it back to students — it’s not about defending the so-called ‘honour’ of our chosen majors or proving whose workload is heavier. It’s about recognizing that every discipline brings something valuable. Historians, with their knowledge of the past, lay down the foundation upon which we build our understanding of mathematical and engineering principles. Psychologists research our minds, creating learning environments that allow us to thrive.
Each subject, each field of study, has a story to tell, a piece of the puzzle to contribute to our understanding of the world and our place in it. It’s a tapestry, where every thread adds to the overall picture.
We’re doing this together — the sleepless nights, the search for answers, the drive to make a mark. Our fields of study are different, sure, but they all aim towards a common goal: to explore, to understand, and to improve the world we live in. So, instead of drawing lines between hard and soft sciences, let’s celebrate the diversity of thought, the variety of methods, and the common curiosity within all scientific disciplines and our academics.