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The Big Problems program is a senior capstone curriculum for students in the College. It offers elective courses about "Big problems" that are matters of global or universal concern. These courses use interdisciplinary team teaching, and seek to transcend familiar models of content, organization, and instruction.

For more detailed information about past and current course offerings, please download the Big Problems section of the college course catalog.

Courses 2017-2018

Autumn 2017

Energy and Energy Policy
R. Stephen Berry (Chemistry)
George Tolley (Economics)

Global Energy and Climate Challenge: Economics, Science and Policy
Michael Greenstone (Economics)
John M. Deutch (Chemistry, MIT)

Medical Ethics: Central Topics
Daniel Brudney (Philosophy)

The Nuclear Age
Deborah L. Nelson (English Language & Literature)

Winter 2018

Biological and Cultural Evolution
Salikoko Mufwene (Linguistics)
William Wimsatt (Philosophy)

Drinking Alcohol: Social Problem or Normal Cultural Practice?
Michael Dietler (Anthropology)
William N. Green (Neurobiology)

Inequality: Origins, Dimensions, and Policy
Allen Sanderson (Economics)

Spring 2018

Health Care and the Limits of State Action
Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature)
Mindy Schwartz (Medicine)

Past Courses

Spring 2017

Anxiety
Malynne Sternstein (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Anne Flannery

Art and Human Rights
Mark Bradley (History)
Leslie Buxbaum-Danzig (Theater & Performance Studies)

Understanding Wisdom
W. Clark Gilpin (Divinity School)
Anne Henly (Psychology)

Winter 2017

Biology and Sociology of AIDS
Harold Pollack (Social Service Administration), John Schneider (Medicine)

Inequality: Origins, Dimensions, and Policy
Allen Sanderson (Economics)

Jews and Christians in the Middle East
Orit Bashkin (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Angie Heo (Anthropology & Sociology of Religion)

Autumn 2016

Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production
Patrick Jagoda (English Language & Literature), Heidi Coleman (Theater & Performance Studies)

Energy and Energy Policy
R. Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Spring 2016

Health Care and the Limits of State Action
Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature), Evan Lyon (Medicine)

Winter 2016

Colloquium: Digital Humanities/Digital History
Robert Morrissey (History), James Sparrow (History), Clovis Gladstone (ARTFL)

Understanding Wisdom
W. Clark Gilpin (Divinity School), Anne Henly (Psychology)

Autumn 2015

Energy and Energy Policy
R. Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Drinking Alcohol: Social Problem or Normal Cultural Practice?
Michael Dietler (Anthropology), William Green (Neurobiology)

Spring 2015

Language and Globalization
Salikoko Mufwene (Linguistics), William Wimsatt (Philosophy)

Autumn 2014

Energy and Energy Policy
R. Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Understanding Wisdom
Howard Nusbaum (Psychology), Berthold Hoeckner (Music), Anne Henly (Psychology)

Spring 2014

The Affect System
John Cacioppo (Psychology), Stephanie Cacioppo (Psychology), Eric Oliver (Political Science)

Mythical History, Paradigmatic Figures: Caesar, Augustus, Charlemagne, Napoleon
Michele Lowrie (Classics), Robert Morrissey (Romance Languages & Literatures)

Winter 2014

Biology and Sociology of AIDS
Harold Pollack (Social Service Administration), John Schneider (Medicine)

Drinking Alcohol: Social Problem or Normal Cultural Practice?
Michael Dietler (Anthropology), William Green (Neurobiology)

Health Care and the Limits of State Action
Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature), Evan Lyon (Medicine)

Autumn 2013

Cosmos and Conscience: Looking for Ourselves Elsewhere
Wiliam Schweiker (Divinity School), Don York (Astronomy)

Energy and Energy Policy
Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Movies and Madness 
W.J.T. Mitchell (English), Judy Hoffman (Cinema & Media Studies)

Picturing Words/Writing Images (Studio) 
Jessica Stockholder (Visual Arts), Srikanth Reddy (English)

Spring 2013

Biological and Cultural Evolution
William Wimsatt (Philosophy), Salikoko Mufwene (Linguistics)

The Ugly American Comes Home
Martha Merritt (International Studies), Paul Durica (English)

Winter 2013

Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis?
Daniel Brudney (Philosophy), Ann Dudley Goldblatt (Medical Ethics), Laine Ross (Medicine), Alison Winter (History)

Autumn 2012

Energy and Energy Policy
Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Health Care and the Limits of State Action
Haun Saussy (Comparative Literature), Evan Lyon (Medicine)

Spring 2012

Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis?
Daniel Brudney (Philosophy), John Lantos (Pediatrics), Lainie Ross (Medicine)

The Social Brain: Social Isolation and Loneliness
John Cacioppo (Psychology), Louise Hawkley (Psychology)

The Ugly American Comes Home
Martha Merritt (International Studies), Gabriel Tusinski (Anthropology)

What is Enlightenment?
Margot Browning (Humanities), Pierre-Julien Harter (Philosophy of Religions)

Winter 2012

Biology and Sociology of AIDS
Harold Pollack (Social Service Administration), John Schneider (Medicine)

Autumn 2011

Energy and Energy Policy
Stephen Berry (Chemistry), George Tolley (Economics)

Spring 2011

  • Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis?
    Daniel Brudney, Philosophy
    John Lantos, Pediatrics
    Alison Winter, History
  • The Ugly American Comes Home
    Martha Merritt, International Studies
    Betsey Brada, Anthropology
  • What is Civic Knowledge?
    Bart Schultz, Philosophy
    Margot Browning, Humanities

Winter 2011

  • Sex and Ethics
    Lauren Berlant, English
    Joseph Fischel, Political Science

Autumn 2010

  • Cosmos and Conscience: Looking for Ourselves Elsewhere
    William Schweiker, Divinity School
    Don York, Astronomy
  • Energy and Energy Policy
    Stephen Berry, Chemistry
    George Tolley, Economics
    Also see: Energy and Energy Policy Course Papers

Spring 2010

  • What Do the Genomes Teach Us About Evolution?
    James Shapiro, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Manyuan Long, Ecology & Evolution
  • What is Enlightenment?
    Margot Browning, Humanities

Winter 2010

  • Autonomy and Medical Paternalism
    Daniel Brudney, Philosophy
    John Lantos, Pediatrics
  • Biological & Cultural Evolution
    Salikoko Mufwene, Linguistics
    William Wimsatt, Philosophy
  • Sex & Ethics
    Lauren Berlant, English
    Candace Vogler, Philosophy

Autumn 2009

Spring 2009

  • Is Development Sustainable?
    Yayoi Fujita, Anthropology
    Gordon Davis, Law
  • Language & Globalization
    Salikoko Mufwene, Linguistics
    William Wimsatt, Philosophy
  • Love and Tragedy in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
    David Orlinsky, Human Development
    Herman Sinaiko, Humanities
  • Memory, Commemoration & Mourning
    Bertram Cohler, Human Development
  • The Organization of Knowledge
    Herman Sinaiko, Humanities
    William Sterner, Computer Science
  • Prairie Ecosystems: Lessons of Sustainability in the Past,
    Present, and Future

    Justin Borevitz, Ecology & Evolution

Winter 2009

  • Autonomy and Medical Paternalism
    John Lantos, Pediatrics

Autumn 2008

  • Energy and Energy Policy
    Stephen Berry, Chemistry
    George Tolley, Economics

    Also see: Energy and Energy Policy Course Papers
  • What is Civic Knowledge?
    Bart Schultz, Philosophy
    Margot Browning, Humanities

Spring 2008

  • Is Development Sustainable?
    Alan Kolata, Anthropology
    Ted Steck, Biochemistry
  • Romantic Love: Cultural, Philosophical & Psychological Aspects
    David Orlinsky, Human Development
    Katia Mitova, Social Thought
  • Energy & Energy Policy
    Steve Berry, Chemistry
    George Tolley, Economics
    Also see: Energy and Energy Policy Course Papers

Winter 2008

  • Autonomy & Medical Paternalism
    Daniel Brudney, Philosophy
    John Lantos, Pediatrics
  • Biology and Sociology of AIDS
    Harold Pollack, Social Service Admin.
    Jose Quintans, Pathology
  • Evolutionary Theory and Its Role in the Human Sciences
    Robert Richards, History
    Naomi Beck, Soc. Sci. Coll. Div.
Autumn 2007
  • Empire
    Lee Behnke, Classics
    Cabell King, Theology
  • Biological & Cultural Evolution
    Salikoko Mufwene, Linguistics
    William Wimsatt, Philosophy
Spring 2007
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Romantic Love: Phil & Lit Perspectives
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Romantic Love: Cult/Psych Persp
Winter 2007
  • Autonomy & Medical Paternalism
  • Language & Globalization
  • Biology and Sociology of AIDS
  • Antonioni's Films: Real & Ambig
Autumn 2006
  • Perspectives On Imaging
Spring 2006
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Romantic Love: Cult/Psych Persp
  • Neo-Liberalism / Neo-Imperialism
  • Complex Prob: World Hunger
  • Body/Soul: Approaches to Prayer
  • Creation and Creativity
Winter 2006
  • Boundaries, Modules & Levels
  • Medicine and Society: Things, Bodies, Persons
  • Biological/Cultural Evolution
Autumn 2005
  • Terror, Religion & Aesthetics
Spring 2005
  • Creation and Creativity
  • Evil
  • Globalization: History and Theory
  • Globalization and Neoliberalism
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Language and Globalization
  • Psychoneuroimmunology: Links between the Nervous and Immune Systems.
  • The Complex Problem of World Hunger
  • Utopias
Winter 2005
  • Antonioni's Films: Reality and Ambiguity
  • On Love: Text and Context
  • Rewriting the Past: Narrative, Ritual, and Monument
Autumn 2004
  • Perspectives on Imaging
Winter 2004
  • Moments in Atheism
  • On Love: Text and Context
Spring 2004
  • Globalization and Neo-liberalism
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Language and Globalization
  • The Complex Problem of World Hunger
  • The Organization of Knowledge
Winter 2003
  • Biological and Cultural Evolution
Spring 2003
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Globalization and Neoliberalism
  • On Love: Text and Context
  • Rewriting the Past: Narrative, Ritual and Monument
  • War
Spring 2002
  • Concepts of the Self from Antiquity to the Present
  • Globalization and Neo-liberalism
  • Is Development Sustainable?
Winter 2002
  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • Social Context, Biology, and Health
  • Globalization/Neoliberalism

Spring 2001

  • Is Development Sustainable?
  • The Organization of Knowledge
  • Science and Religion

Autumn 2000

  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Globalization/Neoliberalism

Spring 2000

  • Is Development Sustainable?

Winter 2000

  • Cultural Evolution and Dimensions of Globalization

Autumn 1999

  • Biological and Cultural Evolution

For more information please contact Margot Browning, Executive Director, by emailing mb31@uchicago.edu or calling 773-702-5657.

 


Please contact us with any questions.