The advent of neuroscience and artificial intelligence is reshaping our world today, creating a dramatic shift in how we think about what it means to be human. From regarding an individual as defined by their thoughts and feelings, modern emphasis is falling increasingly on neurobiological algorithms and big data sets. The very meaning of the mind, free will and human values are undergoing deep alteration. At this critical juncture, it is vital that humanists participate in the development of a shared intellectual enterprise to ensure that scientific developments take place in the context of human values --- but much of the ‘cognitive revolution’ still has to make its full impact on the typical student.
UC Santa Barbara's Cognitive Cluster is a collection of courses that seek to provide an account of modern neuroscience and its implication for the humanist with little or no knowledge of the topic, emphasizing literature as that which engages most sharply with the model of the mind emerging from accelerating technological and scientific advances. The courses will focus on literature, and the significant contribution it can make to the neurobiological and computer sciences on the most subtle aspects of social perception, memory, emotion and cognition. Students from all majors are invited to enroll in the three courses offered in Summer 2022, though upper-division standing or Writing 2 are prerequisites.