Cohen Center opens doors for transdisciplinary collaboration


 

Cohen Center grand opening
Dr. Ralph Cohen, JMU provost's distinguished professor, talks with Dr. Ralph Alberico, professor and dean of Libraries and Educational Technologies, during the grand opening of the Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism. The center is made possible through a generous donation by Cohen and his late wife Libby.

Bridging relationships among nature, technology, science and the arts, JMU’s Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism is the first of its kind in Virginia: an epicenter of collaborative scholarship, knowledge across disciplinary lines, and study of the intimate ties between technology and the human condition.

"When we think about being educated and enlightened, we need to have that breadth of perspective. It also includes an understanding of different perspectives, different cultures…and perspectives on how what we call our ‘invented society’ influences how we live our lives.”
- JMU President Jonathan R. Alger

For its grand opening on Sept. 17, faculty members, graduate students and department heads from every corner of JMU’s academic spectrum convened to celebrate what would come of the newly created center. Dr. Jerry Benson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, remarked that the diverse turnout “represents all that the [Cohen] Center stands for” and mirrors all the reflections he has had with Dr. Ralph Cohen about what the endeavor means for JMU and for the broader world of academics.

The Cohen Center will provide a space on campus where big-picture questions will be addressed with an approach that values symbiotic relationships among academic disciplines and focuses on graduate education. In our increasingly global, technological and interconnected world, the Cohen Center will promote understanding of the unavoidable interplays between technology and human elements in the 21st century.

“When we think about being educated and enlightened, we need to have that breadth of perspective,” said JMU President Jonathan R. Alger. “It also includes an understanding of different perspectives, different cultures…and perspectives on how what we call our ‘invented society’ influences how we live our lives.”

Observing the profound impact that technology has had on the ways in which we live and learn, the Cohen Center will help students and the faculty to reflect on the complexity of those dynamics.

Cohen Center - McGann

Professor Jerome McGann of the University of Virginia, keynote speaker for the Cohen Center’s grand opening, emphasized the importance of JMU’s venture. Reflecting on his own scholarship in history, literature and culture, McGann praised the interdisciplinary work of the Cohen Center during a time when so much emphasis is placed on academic specialization. JMU graduate student Megan Rodgers Good similarly championed the space, which she said allows students to think about the broader scope of their degrees while academia at the graduate level is so narrowly focused.

Dr. Melissa Aleman, interim dean of JMU’s Graduate School, invited professors and students to be ambassadors of the center to the broader community, to celebrate the valuable crossover among disciplines, and to honor Cohen’s vision of education being “for the future.” The Cohen Center combines James Madison University’s commitment to liberal studies with its mission of being a national model for the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world.

The Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism is made possible through the generous donation of Dr. Ralph Cohen and the late Libby O. Cohen, for whom the center is named.

Dr. Larry Burton of JMU’s Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication program is the director of the Cohen Center for Technological Humanism. Those interested in the work and mission of the center may contact him at burtonlw@jmu.edu.

###

Sept. 18, 2014

Published: Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back to Top

    Related Articles

  • CCN Student volunteers CCN empowers caregivers and students

    In Harrisonburg and its surrounding areas, the aging population is expected to skyrocket through 2030. Students are working with the Caregivers Community Network to accommodate the needs of this rapidly growing populatio

  • PHOTO: Caroline Whitlow #CHBSChats with Caroline Whitlow

    #CHBSChats with Caroline Whitlow - Our series of informal chats with students

  • therapy without a therapist Therapy Without a Therapist

    Therapy without a Therapist: the Health Center and Counseling Center Present on Self-Care