The schism between the sciences and the humanities remains as large as ever, even as we live in an era where information is at everyone’s fingertips. Furthermore, there is little to no public engagement in some of the most fundamental questions that we can ask about our world. These are questions of pressing importance to modern society, as science is increasingly addressing issues of meaning and value that have traditionally been the province of the humanities and of the world’s religions. Some are questions that have endured and inspired since the dawn of civilization, as man contemplated existence in a mysterious universe. As such, they carry deep spiritual meaning and transformative power.
A radical new perspective is needed, one that creates the opportunity and means for real change. The Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth (ICED) is a forum that will promote and facilitate lively dialogue between leading members of academia, public intellectuals, spiritual leaders, and the public in a variety of formats, from widely-disseminated web-accessible courses and public lectures to fellowships and workshops. ICED aims to create a transformative bridge between the sciences and the humanities, establishing new approaches to dialogue that will educate and inspire students and members of the society at large. Lectures and courses will be available to the public through ICED's website and the DartmouthX initiative, and a book volume with the edited contents of the live conversations between scientists, humanists, and spiritual leaders will be published at the end of the funding period. It is our hope that ICED will become an enduring part of Dartmouth and a global model for how to promote a dialogue between the "two cultures" that enriches and broadens our engagement with the Big Questions and nourishes our spiritual outlook in our ongoing search for meaning.