Can you trust other people? More importantly, can you trust other people to cooperate toward positive social change? Many of the dominant understandings of human nature told over centuries tell us that people either look out for themselves, or can’t look past social norms, resulting in inaction. These stories influence politics and education; they also set a limit to what we think we can achieve. Hence reading those dominant stories of human nature, contrasted with evidence from across human knowledge and cultures, is an empowering means of imagining a better tomorrow.
Students in this course will learn at their own pace, and encounter many recent theoretical developments in philosophy, anthropology, and psychology to read against those popular narratives that depict humans as selfish and ruthless. Students will strengthen their reading and thinking skills by learning to spot and rethink the dominant stories at the heart of our modern understanding of human nature.
This course is delivered via four online modules:
- “The Human Crisis”; Albert Camus and the Possibility of Peace
- The State of Nature
- Wicked Liberty
- Human Action and Global Challenges
Students will also complete a five-hour practical workshop where they will critique the positions of Hobbes and Rousseau, and the narratives of human nature that have been derived from them. Students will then learn the art of reading dangerously, learning to critique and analyse a selection of more recent advances in psychology, anthropology, philosophy and economics, and the real world examples in those sources, to discover a more optimistic way of looking at human rights issues.