There is an old story originating on the Indian subcontinent usually referred to as the Blind Men and the Elephant. My Dean likes to refer to it in her talks about our unit of Leiden University - The Leiden University College. She uses it to explain our Liberal Arts and Science Programme thematically focused on Global Challenges to parents, visitors, and - yes - to our colleagues in more traditional institutes during her tours of the Leiden University, all of whom are often more familiar with traditional ‘mono-disciplinary’ programmes of study. Particularly, this analogy shows why complex global challenges require interdisciplinary approaches and open critical discussion between people of different expertise and experiences in life.

Sadly, when a global challenge comes stampeding into our lives, it seems that the response is often to close up, centralize, and ‘trust the authorities and experts’. We cannot possibly trust the peasants and the dilettantes with something as complex as exponential growth charts and data (skills that every undergrad at our college usually possesses after their first year). I mean, do you even have a publication in an internationally peer reviewed publication on public health approaches to pandemics? If not, why are you even talking?

This is a terrible impulse, and we should resist the urge to entertain it. University Colleges train us to do so, and how to have constructive synthetic conversations across domains….

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A previous version of this article appeared on The Corona Kremlinologists project webpage.