Every fall, the LLC organizes a House Course to provide a forum and common theme for our discussions on political, philosophical, and economic issues.  The House Course allows for the personal and intellectual bonds between LLC members to bud and flourish.  It is mandatory for LLC members and scheduled in the evening to avoid other class conflicts. This spring, the LLC is also offering an optional house course on Asian Grand Strategies (Find it on Dukehub! Not too late to enroll!). Here’s a look at two past syllabi:

Fall 2022 – Choice, Politics, and Society

Do we ever make truly autonomous choices? What kind of factors go into the decisions
we make? Is there a “right way” to go about deciding where to go to college, whom to marry, or
which cat is cuter? How can we model others’ decisions? How do we figure out what a group of
people want? Is “group choice” even possible? Are there reasons to doubt our autonomy of
choice? How do societies (and companies) influence individual choice? How do our personal
choices affect society?
We hope you will walk away from this course with a better understanding of the
economic, political, and philosophical underpinnings of choice, how groups can (and can’t)
make choices together, and how communities balance personal choice and societal obligation.

Week 1: How the Class Works and Who We Are

Week 2: Modelling Choice

Week 3: Decision Theory and Utility

Week 4: Emotion, Choice, and Cooperation

Week 5: Public Choice: Voting

Week 6: Frameworks of Choice: What Matters?

Week 7: Cognitive Biases and Heuristics

Week 8: Science of Choice

Week 9: Information, Choice, and Cognition

Week 10: Journalism and Political Choice

Week 11: This is Your Brain on Propaganda

Week 12: Individual Choice and Collective Problems

Week 13: Chinese Approaches to Choice and COVID-19

Spring 2021 – Unpacking 2020: Contemporary Political Trends

If there was one word that Americans heard more than any other in 2020, it was “unprecedented.” A year full of vivid images supported this sentiment. A nurse in full PPE gear working long hours to combat COVID-19 and “flatten the curve.” A state unemployment website completely crashed due to the influx of millions of Americans freshly out of work. Smoke and haze from wildfires stretched across the sky from California to the East Coast. Two septuagenarian presidential candidates. Protests in thousands of cities across America.

In a year of such an ostensibly unprecedented onslaught of crises and monumental events, it was easy to be yanked along by the 2020 roller coaster without much time to think and reflect about the causes and implications of world events. Now, with some time to breathe and reflect, we can perform a post-mortem of 2020. Using historical and analytical perspectives, this class will analyze and evaluate the events of 2020. In particular, we will discuss and debate the key issues of 2020 through the lens of longer term political trends. Were the events of 2020 truly as “unprecedented” as popular sentiment suggests, or are there longer term, less obvious trends at work?

Week 1: How the Class Works and Who We Are

Week 2: The Ethics of University Reopening Policies

Week 3: Social Culture at Elite Universities

Week 4: Rising China and the World

Week 5: Saudi Arabia’s Vision for the Future and its Contradictions

Week 6: Climate Change

Week 7: COVID-19’s Impact on the Economy

Week 8: Federalism and Responses to COVID-19

Week 9: The Media and Information Divide

Week 10: Black Lives Matter and the Future of Policing

Week 11: Meritocracy

Week 12: Plato’s Republic and Tyranny

Week 13: Conclusion