New degree blends arts and science

By Otago Daily Times | Posted: Monday February 26, 2018

Old Boy Tom Mottershead became the first person to graduate from university with a new bachelor of arts and science degree, which aims to break down barriers between arts and science.

Mr Mottershead felt "proud and excited" to be gaining the new BASc degree.

He had begun studying mathematics and music for a BA in 2014, and when he later heard about the new degree being developed, he completed a further six papers this year, to gain the new qualification.

Some of the mathematics had been most academically challenging, and he had particularly enjoyed the chance to work with electronic music, through the music department, and would like to become a music producer.

It was "cool" to gain the new degree, which would also boost his employment chances, he said.

Background information provided by Otago University about the new degree points out that most universities encourage students to specialise in either the sciences or the humanities.

"But the world in which we live needs people whose expertise spans this divide."

Modern science was "rapidly changing our lives", but careful thought was needed about the implications.

Prof Greg Dawes, of the university philosophy department, said the new degree aimed partly at breaking down the barriers between arts and science, which had been referred to by English writer C. P. Snow’s well-known essay "The Two Cultures".

The world faced complex challenges, including climate change, and because there were no simple solutions, it was essential that graduates had an understanding not just of science and technology, but also of the opportunities and costs that scientific developments could bring, he indicated.