UK Politics

Human sciences at Oxford could change politics … to a degree | Letters


Dr Joy Boyce on an Oxford University course that produces graduates trained to think across the ‘two cultures’ of science and humanities

Mike Elwood (Select political leaders on EQ, rather than IQ, Letters, 18 October) may be unaware that Oxford University does offer a course that produces graduates who are trained to think across the field from science to humanities. It is called human sciences. It was set up in the early 1970s by a group of academics from zoology, sociology and anthropology as a deliberate attempt to bridge the “two cultures”. Unfortunately, the university has never provided financial support in terms of staff salaries and the course depends on the commitment of lecturers who believe in the value of a broad perspective to solve today’s problems. An early adopter remarked that the course would have come of age when there was a prime minister who was a graduate. It has always been my opinion that such an outcome is unlikely since the ethos of the course is directly contrary to the notion of one view being right in all cases. Politics, on the other hand, appears to require the practitioner to hold only one personal conviction regardless of all “expert” opinion.
Dr Joy Boyce

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