The Friday Seminar

Thinking Across the Disciplines

Fridays 12:00-2:00 PM (16-136) 

The Concourse Seminar is dedicated in the spring to the critical epistemological question of how we can know those things that we think we know.  We will consider what knowledge consists of, how we acquire it, and how we can feel certain enough in it to provide us with a direction forward.  These broad concerns are not all addressed in the same way across the disciplines, as the standard(s) for truth claims can vary considerably depending on the object of one’s inquiry.  Over the course of the semester we will hear from a variety of MIT Faculty from a range of Science, Humanities, and Social Science disciplines about some aspect of their own work.  You will have the opportunity to see how different disciplines think: how they frame questions, how they gather evidence, and how they use that evidence to answer their questions.

Here is the link to our Fall 2021 Canvas site (MIT login required).


Fall 2021 seminar schedule

Date Topic
I. Asking Questions
September 17 (Week 2) What is education?
September 24 (Week 3) Plagues and their Discontents
October 1 (Week 4) What does data, evidence, and proof really show?
October 8 (Week 5) What can science teach us?
October 15 (Week 6) What is happiness and what is virtue?
II. Pursuing Answers
October 22 (Week 7) “Minding the gaps”: art, techne, and technology
October 29 (Week 8) Technology and the good life
November 5 (Week 9) Report out: exploration “lightning shares”
November 12 (Week 10) The limits of knowledge (What don’t we know?)
November 19 (Week 11) Friendship and the good life
III. Thinking Ahead
November 26 (Week 12) (No class – Thanksgiving)
December 3 (Week 13) Final seminar: semester reflections and wrap-up

Past Friday Seminar Schedules

Spring 2019

Spring 2017

Fall 2016

Spring 2016

Fall 2015

Fall 2014

Fall 2013

Spring 2013