KNOW courses are offered by the faculty of the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at both the graduate and the advanced undergraduate levels. 

For graduate students, we offer a number of cross-listed seminars as well as an annual core sequence in topics in the formation of knowledge (KNOW 401, 402, 403). These seminars are team-taught by faculty from different departments or schools and are open to all graduate students regardless of field of study. Graduate students who enroll in two quarters of this sequence are eligible to apply for the Dissertation Research Fellowships.

For undergraduate students, we offer courses cross-listed in departments and schools across the University, as well as unique courses taught by the Institute's Postdoctoral Scholars. To browse courses, search by department, quarter, academic year, or type in a keyword that interests you. In addition, the Institute launched the Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in 2018-19, team-taught courses for fourth-year undergraduate students interested in building upon their UChicago educational experience by adding practice, impact, and influence as important dimensions of their undergraduate work. 


"The IFK was not something I discovered until my fourth year in the College, and I still wish I had engaged with it sooner. The IFK granted me the opportunity to explore social-scientific questions on how new technology impacts what we know, how we know, and the limitations to access to knowledge. The course I took at the IFK gave me the freedom to explore these questions in more depth than has been allowed in other courses I have taken during my undergraduate experience. The courses of study provided by the IFK are unable to be found in any single other major, and brings together students from across disciplines and programs to engage in unique discussion."

-- Undergraduate student, History and Sociology double major, Fourth Year

"Explorations of Mars provided me the rare opportunity to engage with students of different majors and with Mars-related pieces published across a wide range of disciplines. In our seminars and assignments, Professor Bimm challenged us to think through complex societal questions whose answers benefitted from each student's unique perspective. We were also empowered to equally utilize critical thinking, creativity, and imagination as analytical tools and to steer the discussion towards our own emerging concerns. Overall, this class provided an intellectual environment I've encountered nowhere else at UChicago: one that valued each student's voice, that immersed us in contemporary space issues, and that thrived on the multidisciplinary approaches central to IFK's mission."

MENTORING: "I have brought undergraduate and graduate students into my research projects. They learn about sociological research methods and have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing studies that investigate the politics of biomedical knowledge production. In the College Summer Institute (2023) I trained three undergraduate students in sociological methods, and they contributed to data collection and analysis for two projects. All three of these students stayed on to work as Quad Scholars in the 23-24 year." Dr. Melanie Jeske, 2022-24 IFK Postdoctoral Researcher at the Rank of Instructor

KNOW 27002: Foucault and the History of Sexuality

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Autumn
  • TR 10:30 - 11:50 AM
  • KNOW 27002, PHIL 24800, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300,
  • Arnold Davidson

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

KNOW 27001: Image and Text in Mexican Codices

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year:
  • Term:
  • M 1:30 - 4:20 PM
  • KNOW 27001, KNOW 37001, ARTH 20603, ARTH 30603, LACS 20603, LACS 30603,
  • Claudia Brittenham

In most Mesoamerican languages, a single word describes the activities that we would call “writing” and “painting.” This seminar will investigate the interrelationships between image and text in Central Mexico both before and immediately after the introduction of alphabetic writing in the 16th century. We will also review art historical and archaeological evidence for the social conditions of textual and artistic production in Mexico, and how these traditions were transformed under Spanish colonial rule. We will consider the materiality of text and image by working with facsimiles of Mesoamerican books in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library. At the end of the course, students will have acquired a basic literacy in Aztec and Mixtec writing systems, and will have refined their ability to look productively and write elegantly about art.

KNOW 23001: Aztecs and Romans: Antiquity in the Making of Modern Mexico

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Autumn
  • TR 3:00 - 4:20 PM
  • KNOW 23001, HIST 26123, CLCV 26916, LACS 26123
  • Stuart M. McManus

Modern Mexico stands in the shadow of two vibrant pre-modern urban societies: the Mexica (commonly known as the Aztecs) and the Romans.  In this course, we will examine how Mesoamerican and Mediterranean antiquities overlapped and interacted in shaping the culture, politics and society of the area we call Mexico from the late colonial period to the 21st century.  Topics will include: creole patriotism, the political thought of the early Mexican Republic and the Mexican Revolution of 1910, nationalist archaeology, indigenismo, mestizaje and neo-classical and neo-Aztec art and architecture.  All readings will be in translation.