Acknowledging that the greatest challenges facing our world are more than technical problems that can be addressed solely by science and technology, UNH’s College of Liberal Arts (COLA) recently launched the Grand Challenges for the Liberal Arts Initiative to strengthen faculty research that tackles tough issues, including climate change, addiction, civic discourse and interpersonal violence.
Sociology professor Kenneth Johnson, for instance, will bring a social science perspective to a new NASA-funded study that looks at the water quality of lakes in the Northeast. Working with UNH scientists Mark Ducey in the natural resources and the environment department and Michael Palace in Earth science, Johnson will add demographic data such as population growth, land-use changes and recreation use to factors like climate change and cyanobacteria blooms to help the team understand how lakes have changed during the past three decades.
“Scientists and engineers remind us again and again that these matters must be understood within broader realms of human concern, like health, vulnerability, sustainability and the joy of living,” says COLA Dean Heidi Bostic (above). “These are basic issues of meaning, purpose and value, questions that the humanities and the broad liberal arts confront: Who are we and how ought we to live?”