The University of Chicago >>
big problems curriculum in the college homecourseslecturessteering committeelinks
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.

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.
Click here for more >>

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.
Click here for more >>

courses 2018-19
Autumn 2018

Censorship, Info Control, & Revolutions in Info Technology from the Printing Press to the Internet
Adrian Johns (History)
Ada Palmer (History)

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

Urban Design with Nature
Sabina Shaikh (Environmental Studies)
Emily Talen (Urban Studies)

Winter 2019

Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production
Patrick Jagoda (English Language & Literature)
Heidi Coleman (Theater & Performance Studies)
Instructor Consent required. To apply, submit writing by deadline of November 23 through online form at  here. Questions:

From Fossils to Fermi’s Paradox: Origin and Evolution of Intelligent Life
Paul Sereno (Organismal Biology & Anatomy)
Leslie Rogers (Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Sarah London (Psychology)

Spring 2019

Disability and Design
Michele Friedner (Comparative Human Development)
Jennifer Iverson (Music)

Narrating Migration
Jo Mcdonagh (English Language & Literature)
Vu Tran (Creative Writing)

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

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.