… a new experience in undergraduate pedagogy: the experimental senior capstone, or XCAP. The Stevanovich Institute will be launching XCAP in the 2018-19 academic year. For more information about applying to teach the capstone in 2019-20, please check this page after Autumn 2018.

What is XCAP?

XCAP is an experimental capstone curriculum for 4th-year undergraduate students. Its three, quarter-long courses 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 aim to introduce a practical empiricism to the initiative and to enable individual students to be agents of change.

Each Experimental Capstone course should feature:

  • a Practice, Product, or Impact
  • Universal appeal across the College
  • Staying power after graduation
  • 2 faculty for each course (supported by SIFK’s XCAP postdoc)


And now the big question:

Since this is not part of the regular faculty teaching load, and you will not receive teaching credit, why should you be interested? 

  • Because it’s your chance to have a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Because it’s AN EXPERIMENT IN PEDAGOGY unique to the University of Chicago.
  • Because each faculty participant receives a $12,000 BONUS for co-teaching the course with a faculty member from a different Division or School.
  • Because each team will receive a stipend of up to $3,000 towards class expenses (for travel, resources, visitors, etc.).
  • Because now you can ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT the unconventional idea you always wanted to try out.
  • Because it’s not about grading papers; it’s a PASS/FAIL theory-meets-practice experience.
  • Because YOU CAN INVITE all the visitors you’d like.
  • Because, in addition to your team teacher, you will have the support of SIFK’s XCAP postdoctoral fellow, so time investment is limited.
  • Because the experiment may be REGULARIZED after two trial runs.


How to Apply?

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 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.

If you would like to travel with your class, this can be accommodated  between quarters. Feel free to include ideas that incorporate field experience.

Ideas for topics could include:

  • Theory Meets Practice: each week, an element of the theory and the practice of a field of knowledge. Read the theories, do something.
  • Real World Problem: pick one, study it from all possible angles, make a creative resolution or intervention at the end.
  • Make Knowledge.  Don’t just sit there and absorb it.  What kind of class could actively create knowledge?  How, beyond contributing to Wikipedia?  
  • You, Person: explore yourself through different lenses—health, psychology, human rights, your microbiome, brain function, creativity, culture, you as an economic agent, as a legal subject, socio-economic class and its effects, etc.  What would have made you another you?
  • Close the Gap: work to reposition the university’s intellectual silos as all mutually connected. Show, like Shapin, that the constraints behind art and science are not so different as imagined.
  • Our Future: invite visitors from different disciplines to say where they think the world is going from their field’s perspective (medicine, human rights, cloning, IT, global warming, warfare, space, etc.)
  • Subject, Object, Agent: exploration of the human at the juncture of these terms.
  • Ask a Big Question:  for example, what is happiness?  Does it exist? Is it culturally determined?  Can it be controlled by practices of the self?
  • The Arts in Conflict Resolution
  • Social Impact Practicum: identify a social issue, review academic research on and public policy approaches to the issue, study organizations addressing the issue, recommend the best strategy for approaching the issue in a particular context and present it to a potential partner organization. (c.f. Booth’s practicum series)