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Students Form Think-Tank

`Synergy' to Take Interdisciplinary Approach to Issues

By Ira E. Stoll

Two philosophy concentrators said this week that they plan to seek Undergraduate Council funding for a new interdisciplinary undergraduate think tank and journal.

Craig L. Katz '91, a Leverett House resident, said that the 15 student think tank, named Synergy, would examine one or two contemporary issues each year and publish a journal, called Synergenetics, with its conclusions. Katz and Andrew F. Chao '92, the other organizer, said they hope their group has about 15 members representing different concentrations and backgrounds.

Chao said that by making use of different members' knowledge of their respective disciplines, Synergy should be able to provide holistic, synthetic thinking as opposed to dissection. Chao said that he felt his educational experience had down-played such synthesis.

"As individuals and as disciplines, we have weaknesses. Together, we're stronger," Katz said.

"I don't think we're going to solve any of these earth-shattering problems," Chao said, "but I do expect a lot of students to achieve a better understanding of the topic, and our work may in some way eventually lead to a practical solution."

According to Chao, Synergy members will raise issues such as abortion or ROTC for discussion among members. Then, the members will individually research the topic from the perspectives of their different disciplines.

After the members report on their research, the group as a whole will discuss the issue until it can develop an interdisciplinary synthesis of ideas to solve the problem. Chao said Synergy plans to publish both the statements from the disciplines and the final synthesis in their journal, which will be distributed free to the Harvard community.

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