Cosmology: Science, Wisdom, and the Future

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

mathematics, history of science
  • UG

We will cultivate a sense of wonder as we explore our place in the universe. Through a study of astronomy and cosmology, science and story, intellect and imagination, we will develop tools to understand our world from human through astronomical scales . How do diverse cultures and disciplines express a relationship to the cosmos as they ask foundational questions: “Who are we?” “What is the nature of the universe?" "How do we create knowledge about ourselves and the universe?". Students will write extensively throughout the quarter as they explore these questions.

By observing the night sky, we look into space and time and directly encounter some of the universe's most profound elements and mysteries. Students will learn to use binoculars and telescopes to do field-studies and identify stars, planets, constellations, and other astronomical phenomena.  Students will use virtual technologies and software to simulate the night sky, navigate star charts, and plan stargazing explorations.

Our scientific explorations of the cosmos have revealed wondrous and mysterious aspects of the physical universe. Artists, writers, and filmmakers have explored possibilities not yet realized by current technology. By examining the laws of physics, as they are best understood today, we will separate the possible from the impossible and critically analyze works of fiction that speculate about the limits of human experience.

Some of our most startling views of the cosmos are not found in fiction but in clearly established physical and cosmological theories. We will work with Albert Einstein's theories of relativity and see how strange our world really is. We will accomplish this with no prior science or mathematics prerequisites! All of our work will be developed from the ground up. Students are expected to write and read at a college level, but no specific prior writing experience is required.

Program Details

Fields of Study

astronomy geology philosophy of science writing

Preparatory For

Education, physical sciences,


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Mon/Wed 6-10 pm

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning


$5 fee for an outdoor thermometer


2017-02-24New offering added for Spring 2017