Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Grand Connection: One Example of an Interdisciplinary Approach

Robert Feagan, Peter Farrugia.

Wilfrid Laurier University launched a new campus in Brantford Ontario Canada in 1999 founded on a core program entitled Contemporary Studies. The aim of this program is to foster the development of interdisciplinary skills and to underline the relevance of the Humanities to the complex issues of the contemporary world. The development of pedagogical ‘tools’ oriented to these learning objectives is a key goal of instruction there.

In this paper we unpack the various meanings of an industrial artefact – the Cockshutt Tractor. We consider it from a variety of perspectives: manufacturing processes; people associated with its production; the cultural meanings attached; political-economic conditions of which it is emblematic; and the weave of associations and significance of this artefact as a product of the spatial and temporal context wherein it emerged from the factory gates.

The artefact embodies. This tractor tells a rich and yet complex story – one that necessarily changes with the telling. As a teaching device, we can use it to tease out the interdisciplinary ties inherent yet often unheralded in its form. To this end, we believe the Humanities must play the integrative role in higher education – especially in a world of increasing local/global complexities and tensions.


Robert Feagan  (Canada)
Contemporary Studies

Peter Farrugia  (Canada)

Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Contemporary issues
  • Pedagogy
  • Community

(60 min. Workshop, English)