17

New Effective Altruism course syllabus

I've developed a new course called 'The Psychology of Effective Altruism' (Psych450) that I'm teaching this spring term here at University of New Mexico. 

The syllabus (including an extensive list of required and optional readings and videos) is here: 

https://www.primalpoly.com/s/syllabus-draft-jan24d.docx 

Feel free to borrow any of this material if you teach an EA-related course.

This is an advanced undergraduate seminar with about 20 students, mostly psychology majors. It was designed to be suitable for diverse students at a large state university. Whereas other EA courses have focused mostly on technical moral philosophy, this is pitched more towards the psychology of EA -- both why it's appealing, and why it's difficult.

The course's main topics are EA principles, cause prioritization, utilitarian ethics, moral psychology, charity evaluation, global poverty and health, existential risks, AI safety, moral & cognitive enhancement, near-term technologies (robots, Ems, VR), animal sentience & welfare, and career choices. 

 

I'll probably run this class at least once a year, so would welcome any other suggestions of good readings, videos, exercises, etc. for next time.

-- Geoffrey

Comments (6)

Comment author: Sebastian_Oehm 25 January 2018 08:42:38PM 5 points [-]

Thanks a lot for sharing this. The topics and readings lists strike me as pretty well chosen and interesting. This could be a very useful resource for local groups running discussion groups.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 29 January 2018 04:49:39PM 3 points [-]

Thanks for creating this. I've added your course to this list.

Comment author: Jon_Behar 26 January 2018 07:09:42PM 2 points [-]

I run The Life You Can Save’s “Giving Game” project- we give students (among others) real money to donate in structured decision making process (e.g. between pre-selected charities representing major EA causes). Let me know if you’d be interested in incorporating a GG into this class or future iterations. I’d be happy to discuss ways to tailor the model to your needs, explain what other teachers have done, etc. Background here: https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/giving-games

Comment author: geoffreymiller  (EA Profile) 29 January 2018 12:02:25AM 0 points [-]

Thank you! I'll check it out.

Comment author: padmabilly  (EA Profile) 08 February 2018 12:03:51AM 1 point [-]

This seems lovely <3 Thank you for sharing!!!

If I may, Buddhism if seen as a system for self and collective development, and the art of acquiring what is called as a clear mind (bodhicitta), is also a great resource for what you teach.

I also found that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, from the Vedic tradition, is one of the most precious and precise guided analysis of the Psychology and Essential nature of Effective Altruism.

My third proposal would be the Bhagavad Gita, a wonderful treasure full of images on the psychology of effective altruism, which your students could read during their summer holidays and get inspired.

You seem to already have a great and complete syllabus! I bring some blast from the past which can bring some magic to the students' path, and this is why I thought that these might be helpful.

Thanx again, Billy.

Comment author: turnercore 08 February 2018 08:35:34PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for this, it's a good resource for teachers and learners alike!