Faster, Stronger, Smarter: The Alchemy of Exceptional Human Performance

Serge Onyper
Meeting Days/Times: 
Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special. What would it take to transform an ordinary person into a human being capable of exceptional performance? How does genius come about? Since the times of Ancient Greeks and Romans, humans have tried to comprehend superior performance and capture genius – in art, literature, mathematics, philosophy, athletics, even war – and these attempts continue to be refined and redefined today by the modern advances in cognitive psychology, educational theory, pharmacology, and the study of artificial intelligence. However, the basic questions still remain: What does it mean to excel in a particular field – and how do expertise and skill develop? What is intelligence? Genius? What does it take to have superior memory or unmatched artistic skills? Is talent something you are born with, or is it acquired out of countless hours of deliberate practice? Most importantly, what chances do any of us have to excel, to reach our full potential? Taught by a cognitive psychologist, this course will try to answer these and related questions by exploring the principles of skill acquisition and expertise development across a variety of domains, as well as by critically reviewing approaches to the study of intelligence and human genius, and by applying the knowledge gained to understand our own potential and limits.