Hacking Human Nature

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

  • UG


This will be a high intensity program well suited to self-motivated students. Students who require precise assignments are likely to find the structure of this program frustrating. Students that enjoy collaborating at the intellectual frontier will likely find this program stimulating. 

We have arrived at a defining moment for our species. Humans have raced competitively around the globe, we have leveraged technology to increase our numbers, and we have innovated unsustainable and wildly unfair patterns of consumption. The facts of our predicament will force massive and arbitrary changes upon all humanity if we do not come together to design a wise and self-correcting replacement system first.

Given the above, this program will focus on several related questions:

  • What is the evolutionary nature of humans, and how did it produce our present predicament?
  • What does our evolutionary nature say about the range of viable futures?
  • Given the range of what’s possible, what type of future is most desirable?
  • What is the best hope of making the transition?

This program will not be presented at the front of the room and consumed by the audience. It will emerge from the combined efforts, knowledge, and wisdom of all program participants. It is appropriate to self-motivated students who are open to the idea that massive changes are inevitable, whether humans design them or not. Passive students are likely to feel adrift in this program, just as self-motivated students are energized. A science background is not required, but acceptance of a broad and inclusive scientific worldview is essential.

There will be lectures, readings, and student projects. We will go on two week-long retreats where hiking will occur daily. Students should expect this program to absorb a great deal of time and attention, well beyond the in-class schedule and formal assignments.     

Program Details

Fields of Study

anthropology biology consciousness studies law and government policy sustainability studies zoology

Preparatory For

evolutionary biology.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, April 3 at 9am (Sem II D2109)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$400 for overnight field trips.