Quests for wisdom: Religious, moral, and aesthetic searches for the art of living

Awardees: Arthur Kleinman (FAS/HMS), David Carrasco (HDS/FAS)

Summary: Awardees plan to design, fund, and assess a new interdisciplinary, cross-school course on “wisdom for the art of living” that seeks to transform students’ moral experiences through experiential learning.

Professors Arthur Kleinman and David Carrasco developed a new course, “Quests for Wisdom: Religious, Moral and Aesthetic Searches for the Art of Living,” offered in Fall, 2013. During the 2012-2013 academic year they held two workshops convening colleagues from inside and outside of Harvard to develop their syllabus and methods, with the goal of designing a course that would be transformative for students with respect to their moral development, self-understanding, and sense of community.

Kleinman and Carrasco taught all sections of the course and limited enrollment to 25.
As the CUE Guide scores reveal, the course was extremely well-received by the students, many of whom described it as transformational and all of whom committed themselves to a 5-year follow-up evaluation. According to Carrasco, “students are deeply engaged in their own search through the readings, lectures, films, and class visitors.” In fact, one group of eight students elected at the end of the term to produce a dramatic presentation of the play “Say the Name” based on the memoir of one of the course guest speakers, Judith Sherman, a survivor of the Holocaust.

They offered the course again in Spring 2015, open to larger enrollment up to 80 students, and invited Professor Michael Puett to join the teaching staff.