Week 2: The Art of Seeing


Week 3: The Art of Ethnography

In this week we will explore the art of re-presenting other cultures in writing, audio, film, and virtual reality in ways that can capture and convey the blooming buzzing complexity of human life in all of its richness.  In this example, Brandon Li takes us inside the life of Mongolian Nomads and with no narration allows us to experience their lives.


Week 4: The Evolution and Limits of Human Potential

In week 4 we will tell the 14 billion year history of the universe and the emergence of humans with our specific talents, limits, and potentials.  We will explore how unique human capacities like singing might have made us who we are today.  We will see that asking questions, making connections, and trying new things made us into cultural not just biological beings,  Culture allows us to build and store knowledge, passing it on generation to generation, building up massive civilizations that allow us to thrive in ways our ancestors could have never imagined.  But is there a cost to our technology?  As our technologies advanced, our raw human athleticism has dwindled.  We will learn from people like Ido Portal who studies multiple movement traditions from around the world to restore our human potential and test the limits of human movement.


Week 5: The Evolution and Impact of Language

Sometime between 40,000 and 200,000 years ago, we developed our most important technology: language.  We will learn how to learn – really learn – languages quickly, and the value of learning other languages for opening up the world and its possibilities.  We will also see how our most basic assumptions are embedded in our language often completely hidden from view.  Is it possible that language shapes our thoughts, actions and interactions with others?  If we had a language without tenses, for example, could we live more in the moment?


Week 6: A Brief History of Technology: The Past 12,000 Years

About 12,000 years ago we started planting crops, setting us on a course of radical cultural transformation.  We start settling down into larger and larger groups, transforming human systems of governance, politics, religion and economics.


Week 7: A Brief Future of Technology: The Next 50 Years

Technological changes continue to have dramatic impacts on society.  In week 7 will explore the cultural implications of Artificial Intelligence, Automated Work, Social Media, Renewable Energy, Climate Change, and Technological Immortality … all of which points toward a potential “post-human” future.

Week 8: Gender Roles

All cultures identify men and women as different sexes and have specific expectations for the roles they are to fulfill.  Though there is remarkable consistency across cultures, there are also important differences.  We will explore the gender roles and systems of other cultures and then turn to the core debates of our own culture.




Week 9: Love Around the World

We will take a look at four amazing love stories in four very different cultures, including the epic love story of Ravi Patel


Week 10:  Religions and Wisdom Traditions of the World

We will tour the world’s wisdom traditions to see why they differ and what they might offer us, such as the beautiful insights of Hinduism conveyed here by Alan Watts.



Week 11:  Is there a Universal Morality?

If there is a universal morality, what is it? And why can’t we even agree on basic morals in our own culture?  Why do we have a political left and a political right with different moral visions for our future?  We will tie many strands together this week as we prepare to deal with some of the most pressing issues of our time.


Week 12: Fairness & Inequality in Culture

Since the revolution that farming kicked off 12,000 years ago there has never been a large complex society that has managed to create true equality, or even truly equal opportunity.  As our own culture is founded on the goal of achieving equal opportunity for all, we will look at other cultures to see how their efforts toward fairness have succeeded and failed.  What can we learn from them?


Week 13: Global Inequality – Cause-Solutions and Solution-Causes

Global Inequality seems to be a classic “wicked problem” – a problem so challenging that the solutions often become causes of new problems and perceived causes can be part of the solution.  Is capitalism the root cause of global inequality or has it been our best solution to date, lifting billions out of poverty?  We will watch 2 documentaries with very different takes on the issue: The True Cost (loosely anti-capitalist) and The Pursuit (pro-capitalist).


Week 14: What is the Good Life?  Are there Universal Human Values?

How do other cultures define “the good life”?  Are they able to provide a good life for all of their members?  What can we learn from them as we pursue the good life in our own individual lives and in our own culture?


Week 15: Bending the Arc

In the final week, we will look at heroic figures like Medical Anthropologists Paul Farmer and Jim Kim as they strive to bring quality healthcare to everyone on the planet.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here