The Examined Life

Zoom screen filled with famous authors including:

The first year Examined Life cohort is an academically focused residential experience based around The Examined Life course. The Examined Life is a Complex Problems seminar offered in different sections but with a shared syllabus. Faculty who teach the Examined Life come from across the university, including Departments, of Literature, Government, History, and others.

In the Apology, Socrates argues that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What can this possibly mean? In The Examined Life students and faculty discuss classic and contemporary texts in small seminars with a view to helping each of us to lead an examined life. Our texts are morally complicated works that resist being reduced to a singular moral or political perspective and that produce civil and productive conversation between people who disagree with each other. Authors usually read in The Examined Life include Plato, Augustine, Mary Shelley, Frederick Douglass, and Simone de Beauvoir.


In fall 2023, The Examined Life will be offered as a cohort in University College. The Examined Life cohort is a residential dorm experience for students in the Examined Life class and allows students to develop deeper bonds with each other and faculty. Students in The Examined Life benefit from Program Leaders who have taken the class before and have the opportunity to participate in movie nights, book clubs, and other social events.

Students in The Examined Life often continue on into the Lincoln Scholars program, a 15 credit core texts certificate program. Students interested in the Lincoln Scholars program can find out more here.

Why the Examined Life Cohort?

  • Read core texts closely in a community of shared inquiry
  • Exposure to faculty and students from different perspectives and different academic disciplines
  • Dedicated Program Leaders for Examined Life Classes
  • Social events with other students and faculty
  • Students often go on to complete the Lincoln Scholars certificate program

How do I sign up for this course?

Students interested in taking the Examined Life course should reserve their spot in The Examined Life cohort through the University College.