Philosophical Society of Washington

Snow's “Two Cultures” Revisited, from an Engineer's Perspective

William Wulf
President, National Academy of Engineering

2186th Meeting Abstract
Friday, January 21, 2005 at 8:15 PM


Everyone knows about C.P. Snow's 1959 lecture at Cambridge University, “The Two Cultures.” In it, Snow decries the destructive divide between the cultures of the humanities, especially literature, and the sciences—but he also notes other divides as well. From the perspective of a life that has spanned academia, entrepreneurship, science and engineering, and even some of the humanities, our speaker will venture some observations on these “other divides” and the barriers they present to human understanding and progress. Less heralded in Snow's lecture were his critique of British education, but some of these comments are highly relevant today and will also be elaborated.

William A. Wulf

About the Author:

William A. Wulf is currently the President of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Together with its sibling, the National Academy of Sciences, the NAE is both an honorific organization and an independent, authoritative advisor to the government on issues involving science and technology. Earlier, Mr. Wulf was an Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, Founder and CEO of Tartan Laboratories, and a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon University.

He is a is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Corresponding Member of the Academia Espanola De Ingeniera, a Member of the Academy Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria), a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the IEEE, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Association for Women in Science (AWIS), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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