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about the program
The Big Problems program in the College offers a growing number of capstone experiences offered as electives to fourth-year students in the College. Under special circumstances involving senior project needs, third-year students may petition for special permission to register for a Big Problems course.

"Big problems" are characteristically matters of global or universal concern that intersect with several disciplines and affect a variety of interest groups. They are problems for which solutions are crucially important but not obviously available.

Big Problems courses emphasize process as well as content: learning how to creatively confront difficult intellectual and pragmatic problems wider than one's area or expertise and to consider how to deal with the uncertainty that results. This often points to the importance of working in groups. If the core curriculum provides a basis for learning and the majors develop more specialized knowledge, the Big Problems experience leads to the development of skills for thinking about and dealing with the important but unyielding issues of our time.

featured
Resources in Science Policy
This page is intended as a resource for those interested in teaching Science Policy. It lists relavent courses and research by University of Chicago faculty, and features both a University of Chicago degree-granting program in Science Policy, and a program at a peer institution. We hope that this page will serve the community and grow over time. Please send us your suggestions.
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Web Archive: Energy and Energy Policy Course
We are featuring an archive of papers and presentations by the student teams of the Big Problems course Energy and Energy Policy. This course is taught by R. Stephen Berry and George Tolley. Click here for more >>

Community Info for HIV/AIDS and Darfur Lecture Series
This lecture series invited experts to give public lectures on campus regarding the connection between health care and human rights, medical issues in HIV prevention and care, the experiences of individuals living with AIDS, and the history of domestic and global AIDS policy. To support this series, we created a local resource page listing student and Chicago-area community groups.
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courses 2017-18
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)

Click here for more detailed information about past and current course offerings.

press
Grant to help formulate more BIG PROBLEMS
By Josh Schonwald
The University of Chicago Chronicle
May 15, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 16

A capstone curriculum for third- and fourth-years in the College called Big Problems just got a big boost. The program, which offers interdisciplinary, team-taught courses that confront “big problems”–problems of universal or global concern without an obvious solution–received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Click here for more >>

Please contact us with any questions.