Blog Post

Join Our @DukeSurprise Course! Getting Real w/ Profs @CathyNDavidson and @danariely

Join Our @DukeSurprise Course! Getting Real w/ Profs @CathyNDavidson and @danariely

This post provides an easy, direct public interface for our Duke University course, “Surprise Endings: Social Science and Literature,” team-taught by behavioral economist Dan Ariely and literature scholar (and learning technologies expert) Cathy Davidson, and addressing classic dilemmas of human nature from the perspective of experimental social science and classic works of literature and film.  


We're finding that the blogs (see below) deal with major human issues (attention blindness, self control, love, relativity, obedience and resistance, etc), in intense, even passionate, theoretial terms, from Valentine's Day hype to the Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.  The video interviews conducted by the students (see the video sidebar) are personal, engaged, human, intense, relevant and real.  I don't think any of us have ever experienced a class quite like this before. We call it a "meta MOOC" because we're exploring what it means to take what we do public, the best ways to transform a face-to-face class into readily accessible public interfaces that aren't just about Sage on the Stage videos.   The whole course is public--and we invite you to join in!



The entire class is already publicly available at:

So far, we've addressed the social science and literary representations of:  Attention Blindness, Self Control, Love and Romance, and Relativity and Defaults.  On Monday, we’ll look at Obedience and Resistance, and we will have a guest visitor, magician and mentalist Joshua Lozoff.  

For an overview of our method, ideas, and the feel of the face-to-face class, with a 90 second video of the class:  “Teaching 2.0:  Making a Class Do Cartwheels”:

We will be gradually be rebuilding this class website as a public course with all the materials we've created this semester rearranged by topic.  Eventually, the PhD Lab students will also add assessment materials, research activities, experiments, interactive video, a bibliography with resources, and other embellishments all supplied by the students.  At that point, we may see if one of the famous MOOCs with huge circulation wants to run it.   Or not. . . .   The reason we call it a "meta MOOC" is we're using this class as an opportunity to think about the possibilities for massive distribution of a course.

For now, here’s a topic-by-topic set of links:

    Readings, public discussion:
    Video interview on Attention Blindness with Profs Ariely and Davidson:

    Readings, public discussion:
    Video interview on Self Control with Profs Ariely and Davidson:

    Readings, public discussion:
    Video interview on romance, love with Profs Ariely and Davidson:

For more information about Dan Ariely, visit:
For more information about Cathy Davidson, visit:


1 comment

Looks like a really neat class.  I like the idea of a "meta MOOC."  Thanks for sharing!

Lori Beth