August 9th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Salovey to co-teach experimental seminar

Provost Peter Salovey’s newest experiment is not in his field of psychology. It’s in the classroom.

It’s a Yale College seminar called Great Big Ideas, co-taught by Salovey and Adam Glick ’82, president of the Jack Parker Corporation, a Manhattan-based real estate developer. The interdisciplinary course — pegged as “a comprehensive introduction to the world’s most important ideas and disciplines” — will use 14 state-of-the-art video guest lectures by prominent professors in different subjects. It is the inaugural class offering of the Floating University: a new educational institution founded in part by Glick that teaches through online, multimedia focused curricula.

Great Big Ideas will cover prominent ideas in fields including biomedical research, economics, linguistics, psychology and politics. Students will watch the video guest lectures and read scholarly articles for homework each week. Then Salovey and Glick will lead discussions of the material in weekly 110-minute seminars.

Though Yale has previously made select lectures freely available to students and the public through Open Yale Courses, Great Big Ideas marks the University’s first foray into offering video lectures for credit.

Rather than the typical videos of professors lecturing from podiums, the high quality productions for Great Big Ideas will include animations and graphics. The Floating University describes the lectures on its website as “equivalent to taking a 600-page book and reading it in one hour… masterfully produced and illustrated video presentations with integrated ideas, graphics and animation that makes knowledge come alive.”

The seminar, Salvovey said in a Friday email, is “a bit of an experiment.” He hopes the broad curriculum will encourage students to expand their academic horizons, and expose freshmen and sophomores in particular to majors they would not otherwise consider.

“It’s really too bad that although Yale College offers 75 different majors, about two-thirds of our students choose 1 of 6 of them,” Salovey said. “I think a course like this might encourage exploration beyond the obvious.”

The course is also being offered for credit at Harvard and Bard this fall, and will be available by subscription on the Internet.