Humanities for Engineers: An Experience in Outreach

Professor A. Trevor Hodge
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As universities are becoming increasingly business-oriented, there is a need for humanities to reach out further. There cannot be a wider gap to bridge than that between Classics and Engineers. for classicists usually shrink at "teaching engineering to engineers", while engineers are reluctant to enter the labyrinths of history, so the experience of Carleton University, Ottawa, is of interest. For 20 years there Prof. Hodge has taught a course in Ancient Technology to classes of up to 180 students, half of them engineers. His experience is that the engineers bring to the study an approach both original and rigorously disciplined. As an assignment, models of ancient devices are constructed, including a full-size ballista [slide illustrations]. On the wider and more popular field, epic films, of questionable value, offer an opening for classicists to contribute valuable comments to the mass media. An example is Prof. Hodge's fifteen one-hour radio docudramas, where figures from ancient history appear before a court answering various charges (e.g., Pericles is accused of war crimes, Hippocrates of malpractice, Alexander the Great of misleading advertising, since he wasn't really all that great - he is acquitted). More remarkable is the increasing spread of detective stories with an ancient setting, the leader being Lindsey Davis, whose books are notable for both their imaginative fiction and the high technical accuracy of the background, based on very comprehensive research. The secret of all this is to present to the pubic a format that is pleasantly acceptable but carrying a core of solid material of real value. Acceptability does not mean superficiality, for once the audience has been got to listen, the humanities can speak for themselves, convincingly and effectively.

Keywords: Humanities for engineers, Mass media, approaches to, Technology, ancient, Fiction, with ancient setting, Radio docudramas
Stream: Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Professor A. Trevor Hodge

Distinguished Research Professor of Classics, Department of Classics, Carleton University

Prof. Hodge was born in Belfast, N. Ireland; his degrees of BA, MA, PhD, and Diploma in Classical Archaeology are from Cambridge (Caius College). After serving as Asst. Prof. at Stanford, Cornell, and Univ. of Pennsylvania, he entered Carleton University, Ottawa in 1960. He retired in l998, but remains as Distinguished Research Professor. There he taught a successful course on Ancient Science and Technology, taken largely by engineering students, and broadcast over Instructional TV. He also contributed 50 programmes to Canadian TV network, "University of the Air". His published works include five books: "The Woodwork of Greek Roofs" (1960), "Future Currents in Aqueduct Studies" (1991), "Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply" (1992), "Ancient Greek France" (1999), and "Frontinus' Legacy" (with D. Blackman) (2001), and he is a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Archaeology (1997). He has often lectured for the Archaeological Institute of America, including the prestigious Norton Lectures, and for a year was Visiting Professor in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne. He has also published extensively in popular journalism, in the press and on radio programmes, including a series of 15 radio docudramas on classical themes, broadcast throughout Canada and Australia, one of which in 1988 was runner-up in the Armstrong awards, New York, for the most innovative radio programme in N. America (for "Pontius Pilate"). In 1999-2000 he was lecturer on board round-the world educational cruise, run by Marine Expeditions, Toronto, and lectured on classical history, Atlantis, Aztecs, Incas, Antarctica, Easter Island, Polynesia and (for Sydney) the Olympic Games. He is now chiefly involved in the Learning in Retirement lecture series for retired persons at Carleton University.

Ref: H05P0171