Ricky Crano, a former professor at Tufts University, is always amazed at how his students’ attention is boosted when he mentions cryptocurrencies.
“Everyone was very fresh and curious, not sure what to do at the end of the day,” he said. In the last week of his “Science, Technology and Society” seminar, they are reading everything from Bitcoin to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).
This article is from CoinDesk (Part of )“Education Week”
“Tufts is a special place to explore [crypto] in the classroom due to its blend of liberal arts and a strong computer science and engineering environment,” Crano said.
Learning blockchain and cryptocurrencies is closely related to liberal arts education. Whether you’re an aspiring decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol developer, an artist minting paintings into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or curious about the promise of disruptive monetary systems to help the unbanked and underserved A humanitarian, the crypto space spans multiple disciplines.
Several liberal arts professors are introducing these topics in their courses, covering a variety of disciplines.
At Amherst College, economics professor Neil White teaches a course called “Money and Banking” that focuses on how modern finance works. From banks to regulators to inflation, White covers a wide range of topics surrounding economics. For the past year, he taught the course, and he added cryptocurrency to the syllabus.
White includes a one-week crash course covering the basics of Bitcoin; he thinks it’s a great place for a student to start their crypto journey, starting with blockchain The technology behind it to its use case as a payment method.
“You have electronics that can be transacted and tracked through a public ledger. We [studied] to compare and contrast it with traditional payment currency systems,” He says.
But this is not just theoretical. While many of his students may end up working at JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs after graduation, familiarity with cryptocurrencies can help them stand out.
“The point is not to get into all the details about encryption, but more to give them a basic level of knowledge so that [students] can go out and learn about this stuff on their own ,” White said. In fact, he suspects that many non-economics students might enroll in the course because of its encryption module.
Farah Qureshi, professor of anthropology at Colby College, teaches a course called “The Anthropology of Money” that spends time understanding the cultural aspects of cryptocurrencies and other currencies . She employs an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, and the program attracts students interested in multiple disciplines.
“In fact, I have had a lot of people even sign up for the course, only to literally see the description at the surface level. It speaks volumes about how this kind of education needs to be proceed,” Qureshi said.
As a graduate student, Qureshi researched how cryptocurrencies and mobile money systems can improve financial inclusion. During the 2008 financial crisis, she was particularly interested in the origins of Bitcoin. Money is often overlooked when studying anthropology, but it affects almost every human institution, she said.
As part of the curriculum, students in the Qureshi program study a specific currency during the semester. A recent art history student chose NFTs as the “currency” she studies in her course.
“Our culture looks at repeating the history of savings and credit associations…We also look at the culture of mobile money, and the ways in which technology appropriation is being driven,” Qureshi Say.
Science, Technology and Society
Science, Technology and Society (STS) focuses on how technological advances are reshaping human society, Crano said.
He noted that while cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, it could also have an impact, although little is known about its impact. But he said his students have appetite and interest.
When Crano taught his course “Reading Lab: Automation” online in the fall of 2020, he kept the last two weeks of the course open, allowing students to Choose their favorite from a batch of reading materials to talk about.
In his course, Crano’s students read Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper introducing Bitcoin and Aaron Wright and Primavera De Filippi’s “Blockchain and Law: Code Rules” chapter, which covers DAOs.
Crano chose these readings because of blockchain’s ability to automate accounting and community governance, as well as a sense of cryptocurrencies as a whole in the wider world of technological development interest.
“As a researcher, scholar and educator in media technology and digital culture, I always try to keep my eyes on the ground,” he said. “As a perennial skeptic of Marxism, I would say in a very loose sense that I have been trying to find something to demythologize.”
He said STS allows for the demythologization of encryption; instead of studying the advanced technologies that make up blockchain, look at its societal implications.
Crano also noted that taking the STS approach to studying cryptocurrencies helps put ideas into practice because it is “inevitably entangled with technology and politics and law, and Deep-rooted structures of social inequality.”
Crypto education is infiltrating the liberal arts through multiple disciplines. This is a topic that touches many areas of educational interest, including money, politics, culture, and more. And, perhaps, instead of liberal arts colleges offering a major to study cryptocurrencies, an “interdisciplinary approach” will help perpetuate the eventual mass adoption of Web3.