First-year units in Integrated Human Studies will be available at The University of Western Australia in 2011.
Humanity in the 21st Century (IHST1110) and Human Action for World Futures (IHST1111) have been developed by the Centre for Integrated Human Studies as foundation units to complement and give context to a variety of degree paths.
Integrated Human Studies is a new field that uses interdisciplinary methodologies to consider human and planetary futures. Centre director Professor Neville Bruce said the units were developed in response to concerns that tertiary education was not addressing pressing issues. “Human actions have brought us to the brink of catastrophe: we face issues of global inequity, resource depletion, overpopulation, climate change, continuing wars, and the list goes on. The problems are so complex there is even a special term for them: wicked problems. A single disciplinary approach is not enough to apprehend these problems and propose solutions.
“It’s essential to build our future on a firm understanding of the past and of our current situation. What does it mean to be a human? How do our needs and desires shape our actions? What do we need to do – or avoid doing – in order to enable a future on this planet that is equitable, peaceful and sustainable?”
Humanity in the 21st Century takes a transdisciplinary approach to explore who we are; our biological origins and potentials and the environmental and historical forces that helped shape humanity. It examines the realities of human wellbeing and environmental sustainability, and the unique challenges and opportunities for the future.
Human Action for World Futures surveys the ways in which human actions have shaped the destiny of civilisations throughout history. It draws on the methodologies of future studies to critically examine a range of future scenarios; explores the influence of cultural, technological, political, economic and other social forces as agents of change, as well as considering the individual factors in human behaviour; and finally, it explores a range of possibilities for transformational change in the global era, including new technologies, corporate responsibility, active citizenship, the Internet and social networking.
Both units provide broad understandings from a range of disciplinary perspectives and an introduction to transdisciplinary skills and methods required for addressing current, real-world issues and seeking pathways to the future.
Professor Bruce stressed the value of integrating the humanities and the sciences. “The sciences measure and test our knowledge of the world around us and are essential in proposing technological solutions to problems. But the arts and humanities are equally important in examining and representing our values and aspirations, and imagining our futures.
Professor Neville Bruce (+61 8) 6488 3292