The question is a metaphorical one, inspired by Heesun Hwang's remark that she is attracted by "an engineering approach." Now what could that mean?
I instantly thought of Henry Petroski's classic To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design. There, right at the beginning of chapter 4 "Engineering as Hypothesis" (1985:40), I found what I was looking for. Try substituting "anthropologist" for "engineer" in the following text.
Every issue of The Structural Engineer, the official journal of the British Institution of Structural Engineers carries prominently displayed in a box on its contents page this definition of its subject:
Structural engineering is the science and art of designing and making, with economy and elegance, buildings, bridges, frameworks, and other similar structures so that they can safely resist the forces to which they may be subjected.
Since some engineers deny that engineering is either science or art, it is encouraging to see this somewhat official declaration that it is both. And indeed it is, for the conception of a design for a new structure can involve as much a leap of the imagination and as much a synthesis of experience and knowledge as any artist is required to bring to his canvas or paper. And once that design is articulated by the engineer as artist, it must be analyzed by the engineer as scientist in as rigorous an application of the scientific method as any scientist must make.
My assumption is that it would all depend on the individual anthropologist and where their moral interests are taking them at this time, although personally I would have to be inclined to assume that if there were more individuals whether that of the anthropological world or that of the metaphysical world, utilization of structure in this engineering field in which you speak would change dramatically, but who knows what can happen in today's world of these aesthetics John. I can say from the individuals I know personally in the anthropological field that your engineering would be in good hands but possibly not morally acceptable by these individuals without further details.
<continued after cut off>
This is, of course, an idealized depiction of the school. Still the combination of practical skills, historical and aesthetic awareness, involvement with social and environmental issues, real-world engagement and serious science and engineering sounds like a winning recipe to me. What would an anthropology curriculum that included all these elements look like?
Nice point. It might be worth observing, however, that structural engineering has moved on quite a bit since Petroski wrote his book. Serendipitously, a small but substantial amount of our workflow at The Work Works is translating material related to architecture and urban planning. Since we are in Japan, earthquakes are a major concern and the state of the art in seismic damping could be described in the terms you use, as equipping structures to "engage with and adapt in response to the effects of forces which act upon them."
Just this week, we have been translating some material for a brochure about the Yokohama National University's School of Architecture, and I've been thinking about it as a possible model for education in other fields. The program is divided into four divisions: Architectural Design, a foundation course which includes the design and drawing skills required by work in the other divisions; Architectural Theory, which includes a review of historic and contemporary buildings from historical and aesthetic perspectives; Urban Environment, which addresses water, waste disposal, power and transportation issues in relation to contemporary concerns about the need for energy-saving, environment friendly sustainable cities; and Structural Engineering, where the focus is materials, structures, safety and legal and regulatory issues. The latter three all include studio courses in which students work on real-world redevelopment projects in Yokohama. The master's course includes a mandatory thesis/project proposal that demonstrates not only relevant knowledge and research skills but also proactive thinking about architectural and urban planning issues. Also, given that architects never get to build what they design without the cooperation of lots of other people, the presentation of the graduation thesis/project must demonstrate presentation skills as well.
This is, of course, an idealized depiction of the school. Still, th
You need to be a member of Open Anthropology Cooperative to add comments!