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Haverford College

Trans-Div: A Faculty-Student Seminar
Humans, Desire, Society

August 23-25, 2011

Participating Faculty The Trans-Divisional Logistics Apply

What does it take to get a physicist, an economist, a psychologist, a philosopher, and a bunch of students in the same room, at the same time, talking about the same thing? Unconscious economies of desire? Quantum economics? The philosophy of money? Psycho-physics? How about three words.

Humans. Desire. Society.

We live in an unprecedented era of overlapping crises, at both the theoretical and practical levels. Today's challenges demand that we think beyond the borders between fact and value, nature and culture, science and religion. From global warming to food insecurity, tweet-based revolutions to eco-terrorism, the times call for a truly trans-disciplinary approach to knowledge and power.

In this customs week seminar, we will draw on four distinct yet overlapping perspectives: How is human happiness both defined and affected by the nature of exchange relationships? Get in on the ground floor for three days of intense theoretical mayhem with six students and four Haverford professors from across the divisions. Apprentice yourself to the future as we seek together to overcome the disciplinary confinements that have plagued the modern era. Be part of the experimental discourse that can re-shape education and release the unknown potentials of human society.

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Indradeep Ghosh

Indradeep Ghosh


Joshua Ramey

Joshua Ramey

Writing Program

Peter Love

Peter Love


Ben Le

Ben Le


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This conversation will span the divisions as currently conceived at Haverford: the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. Our exploration should raise impertinent questions about topics that are too new, too raw to have been refined and purified by disciplinary methodologies.

This seminar seeks to place both faculty and students in a space of ignorance and surprise, bringing their disciplinary training to bear on a Trans-Div topic while recognizing mutual blind spots.

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The seminar will take place during the week prior to the start of classes (Customs Week) in the Humanities Center's Seminar Room, Stokes 102.

Seminar Sessions:

Tuesday 8/23: 10am - 1pm
Wednesday 8/24: 10am - 1pm
Thursday 8/25: 10am - 1pm

*Housing will be provided for students at Haverford House in West Philadelphia and with a Haverford student's family nearby. Transportation costs will be provided for participating students, as well as a final meal for the entire seminar at the end of the week.

**A small number of articles will be distributed and should be read in advance of the seminar.

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The Trans-Div Seminar is open to all rising juniors and seniors at Haverford who do not already have responsibilities during Customs Week. Priority will be placed on selecting up to six students who represent all three academic divisions. If you aren't quite sure what to make of this—perfect. Neither are we. This is completely new, and we aren't quite sure what is going to happen.

To apply, email a MSWord document with the following information to by 5pm on Wednesday, August 10th. Please put "[your last name] Trans-Div Application" in the subject line.

Email Address:

  1. (150 words):

    Why are you interested in this seminar? What coursework or other experiences at Haverford have influenced your decision to apply?
  2. (500 words)

    Answer one of the following:
    1. Choose an essay or course project from your time at Haverford. Describe briefly the course in which you undertook the project, and your work on that project. Then, reflect on the following questions: Do you think that your work might have benefited if you had been able to approach the project from a Trans-Div perspective? Why or why not? If you think your work might have benefited, describe what other disciplines you might have drawn from, and in what ways?
    2. During the summer of 2011, did you encounter an intellectual problem that piqued your interest? Assume that you have the opportunity to tackle this problem at Haverford using a Trans-Div approach. How might you pursue it? Describe the problem in as concrete terms as possible. Which disciplines would you choose to explore your question? Why?
    3. By now, you have probably chosen the discipline you will major in. What is it? Perhaps knowledge in this discipline is defined within a specific "paradigm of inquiry." Describe what this is (or is not) for your major. Suppose the purpose of a college education is to prepare you for "the whole of life." Describe why your discipline might fall short of this goal.

Please direct any questions to or

Sponsored by the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.