LINC courses on space and time encourage creativity at Centre

Posted by Centre News in Academics, News, Philosophy, Physics 16 Nov 2017

Campus during the fallThis spring semester, two Centre College professors will teach courses as part of the Learn, Inquire and Network at Centre (LINC), an initiative within the College’s quality enhancement plan, Creative Centre.

James Kelly

James Kelly

This second set of LINC courses will focus on space and time as Associate Professor of Philosophy Eva Cadavid, chair of the philosophy program, teaches “Philosophy of Space and Time” and Associate Professor of Physics James Kelly teaches “Space, Time and the Theory of Relativity.”

Students will take both courses and each professor will attend the other’s class, with the goal of fostering a strong learning community across the disciplines of philosophy and physics. Linking the classes will enable students to foster their creativity, making connections between seemingly disparate subjects.

Both Cadavid and Kelly hope that students get the most out of the interconnected nature of their courses, better grasping ideas beyond the traditional academic divisions of most classes.

“For me, I love that they’re going to get a chance to understand knowledge doesn’t happen in discrete areas. It’s really an interconnected web,” said Cadavid.

“I also hope that students appreciate that we have a lot of pre-assumptions about the way the world works. This is a chance to question them,” added Kelly. “We hope they enjoy it and become more curious about these things.”

Eva Cadavid

Eva Cadavid

The professors also noted that the courses occur about an hour apart, giving students time to process one class and come back to the subject at a different angle and with a fresh perspective.

“It’s really beneficial, when you’re sitting with the material, to then take a break and still be processing it, and then come back to it,” Cadavid explained. “It allows for the kind of creativity the LINC program promotes.”

Additionally, the course has several hours set aside once a week for experiential activities, allowing students and their professors to interact with physicists and philosophers who have worked extensively on space and time.

Cadavid and Kelly chose this subject for their LINC courses as they wanted the classes to remain accessible and interesting.

“It was a natural choice. We wanted the course to be open to all students on campus. The theory of relativity uses mostly high school level math, which anyone on campus can do,” said Kelly. “Also, relativity and Einstein have a certain romanticism. The subject is interesting and can change your worldview, but it’s ultimately accessible.”

Overall, both professors see the LINC program adding a dimension to their courses that they would like their students to find unique and engaging.

“We hope they make connections, exploring possibilities that even we as faculty members don’t think of,” concluded Cadavid.

by Kathleen Murphy ’18
November 16, 2017