Questioning Passion An Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

organized by Jeffrey Kosky, Karla Murdock, Jon Eastwood, Tim Diette and Art Goldsmith

What's the trouble with passion?

Passion. The passions. Good? Or bad? Much in contemporary life makes it difficult and perhaps even unwise to live a passionate life. We need to work a job and make calculated decisions about how to prepare for a career. We need to manage a household and make reasonable investments of our time and money in a balance of friends, family, and finance. And yet we are also told that finding our passion is the key to success, that love is all we need for happiness, and that passionate experience can redeem the banality of everyday life. Clearly there is a lot of confusion surrounding how we talk and think about passion, the passions, and the place they hold in individual and collective life.

Why Study It?

One does not need an advanced degree to be concerned about passion and to have something to say about it; we all have a stake in it, even if to reject it. The popular and everyday concern with passion and the passions is in fact shared by academic experts in university disciplines ranging from the natural and social sciences of economics, psychology, sociology, and neuroscience to the humanistic disciplines of philosophy, art history, and literary studies. The question of passion thus offers the university rare and special opportunities to both learn from and educate a popular concern. It is a topic where the knowledges produced by disciplinary expertise might come together, shape one another, and respond to one another in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.

What's This Seminar Series All About?

The Questioning Passion seminar series is a year-long colloquium that seizes these opportunities. The colloquium is organized around a series of six visiting speakers, chosen for the discipline they represent as well as for the perspective they will bring to our study of passion. Each of the speakers is a leader in his or her field and one whose popularity extends beyond the narrow confine of their discipline.

How Can I Get Involved?

While each of the speakers will give a public talk to the University community, students, staff, and faculty may apply to join a core group of committed seminar participants, who will meet throughout the year to:

  • Attend the majority of the six public lectures by the visiting speakers;
  • Attend luncheon discussions with the speakers, where student participants will assume leadership roles;
  • Participate in additional "sense-making meetings" to discuss the issues raised by the speakers and the topics they address.

Where Do I Apply?

Fill out our online application to indicate your interest.


The lectures and other events making up Questioning Passion are possible with funds provided by The Root Lecture Fund, The Johnson Endowment, University Lectures Fund, The Class of 63 Lecture Series, The Office of the Dean of the Commerce School, The Office of the Dean of the College and The Office of the Provost.