Essential Program Questions

What is science?

  • What is knowledge?  What can we know, and how do we know that we know it?

  • What is the place of science in our social, economic, and political lives?  What is the relationship between humanity and technology?

  • How has technology impacted American culture, in its literature, film, and beyond?

What is justice?

  • What does it mean to be free and self-aware?  What does freedom require of us?

  • What are the limits of justice?  And why are people capable of both great nobility and great evil?

  • What are my obligations to others as their fellow-citizen and as an engineer?

What is beauty?

  • What is the meaning of art?  Does it convey truth?  And if so, how do its truths differ from scientific truths?

  • How does beauty bring sense to life?  Do human beings need beauty to live meaningful lives?

  • What is the role of creativity in engineering?  How is the engineer like an artist?

What is truth?

  • Is truth merely relative?  Or is it universal?  How do I distinguish my inherited opinions from the truth?

  • What is the relationship between truth and beauty?  Truth and faith?  Truth and justice?

  • Is there a God, supreme being, or supernatural power of some sort?  What might his intentions be for humanity?  And why is faith so challenging for human beings?

What are you?

  • How do history, politics, culture, and technology inform our identities as individuals?

  • How do aspects of an individual’s heritage inform their senses of self and belonging?  What is the impact of history, oppression, and colonialism on our individual identities?

  • What is human nature?  And how do our identities inform how we conceive of it?