Please note that the call for 2019-20 XCAP course proposals is now closed. 

Call for proposals to design EXPERIMENTAL CAPSTONE COURSES

Application deadline extended to 14 January 2019


The Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge is inviting proposals for courses in the Experimental Senior Capstone (XCAP), which will be taught in the academic year of 2019-20.

XCAP is an experimental capstone curriculum for 4th-year undergraduate students launched by the Stevanovich Institute in the 2017-18 academic year. Its three courses, one per quarter, will be team-taught by faculty from different Divisions or Schools and will be designed to encourage students not just to theorize but to put theory into practice as a way of approaching problems. This orientation and the innovative structure of the XCAP courses aims to enable individual students to be agents of change.

Each Experimental Capstone course should feature:

  • Practice, Product, or Impact: each course will require hands-on experiments, the production of an object or other product (e.g. website), and/or action outside of the classroom as a key component.
  • Universal appeal across the College, as students interested in XCAP will come from all divisions and schools
  • Staying power after graduation: courses are designed to give students a new skill, framework, or product that they can use as they enter their careers, be it in academia or otherwise
  • 2 faculty for each course, preferably focused on differing areas of research

XCAP courses are an experiment in pedagogy unique to the University of Chicago and provide a chance for faculty to have a significant impact on the undergraduate curriculum and try out unconventional teaching ideas. The XCAP experiment has the potential to become regularized by the College after two trial runs.

Under the XCAP program, faculty participants have the opportunity to invite visitors to speak in the class. Emphasis is on innovative teaching and classroom experiences rather than grading, and faculty are encouraged to offer the classes Pass/Fail.

Each faculty participant will receive a $10,000 salary bonus for co-teaching the course with a faculty member from a different Division or School, and each team will receive a stipend of up to $3,000 towards class expenses (for travel, resources, visitors, etc.).  Salary bonuses will be subject to the policies of the Schools and Divisions of the participating faculty.

XCAP course will not form part of the regular faculty teaching load, and faculty will not receive teaching credit for the courses.

Application procedure:

To apply, find a faculty partner from a different Division or School; devise a syllabus that fascinates and challenges while incorporating real-life practice and problems; and submit it at

Applications are accepted from tenure-track faculty in any UChicago Division or School.

Required application materials are a draft syllabus which includes a brief description of the course, its goals and rationale, the c.v.’s of the two proposing faculty members, and an application form with contact information and the preferred quarter(s) in which the course would be taught.

Based on the criteria of the incorporation of practice or product, the anticipated impact of the course, and its appeal across the college, the multidisciplinary Capstone Curriculum Committee will select three XCAP courses to be offered next year. Publicity for the selected courses will be managed by the Stevanovich Institute.

The deadline to apply for the 2019-20 academic year has been extended to 14 January 2019. Instructors will be selected by late January.

XCAP courses taught in Academic Year 2018-19 include:

KNOW 29900 – XCAP: The Experimental Capstone - The Body in Medicine and the Performing Arts

Instructors: Brian Callender, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and Catherine Sullivan, Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts

The Body in Medicine and the Performing Arts is a multidisciplinary course designed to explore the human body through the unique combination of medical science and the performing arts. Drawing broadly from medicine, anthropology, and the performing arts, this course seeks to understand the human body by comparing and contrasting the medicalized body with the animated or performing body. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the primary pedagogy will be interactive activities that allow students to learn about the human body through interactions with other bodies as well as their own. The medical sequence of the course will examine how medicine uses the body as an educational tool, examines the body with diagnostic intent, views the body through radiographic imaging, utilizes the dead body to make diagnoses, and endeavours to prolong life. In the performing arts sequence, students will use their own bodies as instruments of inquiry to explore the ways in which the body is animate, expressive and prone to transformation and signification.

View syllabus here.

KNOW 29940: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone:  Knowledge Claims: Theory/Praxis

Instructors: Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and the Program in Gender Studies. Co-instructor Changes Weekly.

This course incorporates the practice and theory of knowledge systems, with the goals of understanding the claims of various knowledge systems, experiencing the relationship of theory to practice, and learning specific sets of claims to knowledge.  Each module will feature a different expert and will cover a historical, topical, and geographical range of readings and experiments. Our explorations will be in psychology, chemistry, medicine, textile knowledge, museum collections, and conspiracy theories; we examine knowledge claims throughout, with our investigations crossing over the traditional boundaries between science, social science, medicine, and humanities.

View syllabus here.

KNOW 29970: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone: Experiencing the Real - Nature, Culture, Society

Instructors: Michael Rossi, Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine, the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, and the College. Jason MacLean, Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology.

An essential – if little remarked-upon – aspect of our work as scholars and students within an academic community is that we are concerned with that which is real. We read about things that are real. We write about things that are real. We attempt to prove the realities of our theories and we theorize the real. But what is it like to take “the real” as a question not simply of text or theory, but of experience? In this course, we will immerse ourselves in some of the many ways in which we (human beings living in an industrialized society in the early twenty-first century) have come to know that which is real, and to distinguish it from that which is unreal, ambiguous, or even fake. Equal parts ethnography, history, reportage, philosophy, and fabrication, this course takes action and embodiment as its key elements – particularly action and embodiment as manifested through the sometimes-twinned, sometimes-conflicting pursuits of science and art. In considering the nature of the real, we will consider our own embodiment and cognition in conjunction with the material and technological worlds of our own late modern moment as principle elements of the ways in which we come to know the real.

View syllabus here.