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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Predicting the Future

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number FIRST-UG92
Section 001
Instructor Matthew Stanley
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


The future is ephemeral, uncertain, and always seems just within reach. Cultures all around the world have developed a dizzying array of tools for divining the future, from reading goat entrails to calculating carbon dioxide concentrations. Prediction spans religious systems, political policy, business trends, and scientific theories. This course examines a variety of practices of prediction from different cultures, historical eras, and academic disciplines. We will assess the kinds of arguments used in prediction, and how evidence is marshaled to know the unknowable. Claims of prediction have high stakes: what we think about the future changes how we act in the present. Readings may include John Calvin, James Hansen, Karl Marx, Nate Silver, Isaac Asimov, the I-Ching, Claudius Ptolemy, Pierre Simon de Laplace, Max Weber, and Oswald Spengler.



Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)