Alumni & Parent University

Alumni & Parent University opens the doors of the University of Chicago’s distinctive learning environment to alumni and parents who seek to expand their minds, build relationships with peers, and deepen their engagement with the University.

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UChicago Alumni logo.

Presented collaboratively by UChicago Alumni and the Graham School, Alumni & Parent U offers discussion-based seminars that are taught by eminent faculty, accomplished instructors, and distinguished alumni in intimate, Zoom-based classrooms. In the Spring of 2023, Alumni & Parent U is excited to present three new classes on ethics and leadership literature, conspiratorial thinking in democratic life, and narrative nonfiction.


Globe with books in background

World Wisdom Literature

Instructor: David Wray, Associate Professor, Depts. of Classics, Comparative Literature
Tuesdays | 4/11/23 - 5/2/23 | 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. CT

How to live and how to lead are questions that every human community has sought to answer. The thinkers on ethics and leadership whose writings we explore in this course come from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. They include the Greek philosopher Plato, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius, the sages Laozi and Zhuangzi, centuries of women Buddhist teachers in Asia, the British early feminist thinker John Stuart Mill, and the authors of texts like the Bhagavad Gita, the Lotus Sutra, the Mayan Popol Vuh, and writings from ancient Egypt. We will also read selected recent literature on ethics and leadership theory that takes some of these writings from around the world into account and shows how their influences are still felt today.

Typewritten phrase, conspiracy theory

The Role of Conspiracy in Democratic Life

Instructor: Demetra Kasimis, Associate Professor, Political Science
Wednesdays | 4/12/23 - 5/3/23 | 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. CT

In the 21st century, few issues have caused as much controversy as the central role of conspiracy and conspiratorial thinking in democratic life. A portion of the course will focus on recent theoretical approaches to the place of conspiracies and conspiracy theories in democratic life. But most of it will be devoted to finding new and creative ways to think about the conspiratorial as a way of making speculative, critical claims about the hidden routes that power can take in a democracy. We will look at how problems of oikonomia --financialization, grey markets, the reproductive control of women, family wealth, and household labor--get troped in conspiratorial terms in the classical thought of democratic Athens and in modern media. How does conspiracy function as a critical, not just descriptive, language for analyzing democratic politics?

A collage of four images. On the left: a headshot of Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. On the right: three book covers, SEINFELDIA, POP STAR GODDESSES, and WHEN WOMEN INVENTED TELEVISION.

Writing Nonfiction: Turning Facts Into Gripping Scenes

Instructor: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Acclaimed Author and Writer's Studio Instructor
Thursdays | 4/13/23 - 5/4/23 | 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. CT

Led by New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong—whose narrative nonfiction works include Seinfeldia, When Women Invented Television, and more—this course will teach you to conduct research; turn raw facts into riveting scenes; and craft rich, novelistic narrative nonfiction that readers can't put down. We'll discuss essential interview techniques for acquiring gripping details and explore the ample resources available to you, from archival research to photographs. At the end of this class, you'll be able to research like a pro and return home with the raw materials of a narrative that jumps off the page.

If you would like to inquire about partial financial support that may be available, please contact:

Meet the Instructors