Monday, December 6, 2010

New Intellectualism? (warning, very nerdy post)

So just a quick post while I sit here studying for my finals. My Wednesday exam is for an Advanced International Relations Theory course. The material can be dense and occasionally in my opinion removed from reality (I'm an impatient political scientist). Reading a mixture of scholars pulled from the Greek empire all way to the present is sometimes disorienting and it is often hard to contextualize those we are studying within their times and the current events they were reacting to. This only serves to make theory and theorists all the more inaccessible.

Tonight, while doing a basic search to confirm the era of a scholar, I stumbled across a wonderful resource from UC Berkley. They have a Youtube site on which they have posted a series of interviews the school has done with the great modern IR thinkers. Instead of continuing my course outline, I have sat here for the last 3 hours listening to the (mostly) men who have most greatly shaped our understanding of politics and international interactions describe their upbringings, political ideologies, collaborations, reactions to other theories, and thought processes behind their own theories. It is fascinating.

It got me thinking though. In this age of technology, I am able to connect directly with the great thinkers. Rather than solely wade through their dense prose and attempt to guess at their mindset and rational for writing I can watch them interact with another professor and explain what they were thinking when they wrote their great works. I can't help but wonder how this changes academia and the process of gaining information at an intellectual level. Ten years ago this would have been impossible. Should we regard this as yet another blow against reading and thoughtful intellectualism, or celebrate it as a wonderful use of new technology to expand our academic engagement and knowledge?

Nerdy food for thought. Now back to 21st century studying

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