I thought this was a great introduction to both modern Buddhist thought and evolutionary psychology. Professor Wright is an excellent lecturer, and his office hours are informative as well as amusing.
Engaging content and excellent pace. While the level is introductory (I'd have liked a bit more depth), I would expect this from a lower-division/breadth course—and even more so from a MOOC like this.
par Pankaj S•
I had read Prof. Robert Wright's book - The Moral Animal - a few months back, and I had liked it very much. It's an analysis of human behavior from the Darwinian evolutionary perspective, and Darwin himself is analyzed at length. That made me interested in this course. Although I must admit that my motivation for doing the course was the psychology part and not so much the Buddhist texts and theories; however, the course is a very good amalgamation of both the Buddhist ideas and the scientific studies that support them. Prof. Wright has a very understated, slightly amusing way of addressing things and he cites plenty of interesting research. The lectures are interspersed with excerpts from conversations Prof. Wright has had with leading Buddhist thinkers and practitioners. The antics of the two dogs in the office hours are a treat to watch. The readings - from books by authors including Paul Bloom, Rob Kurzban to Wright himself - were extremely informative as well.
I loved the course.
par Beatrice C•
I loved Prof. Wrights´ lectures and will miss watching his videos! His course content was well paced, and the structure of the topics, as they built onto each other, helped retain the material. I in particular liked his humour, and humility, as well as his playfulness with his dogs. I found the additional reading resources rather overwhelming and the time estimates for completion rather optimistic too. Having said that, I was able to answer the essay questions easily based on the course content only, was thus not penalized by only skimming some of the additional reading material resources. On another note, a certificate of completion for this course would also be amazing, just to hang on my wall and show off. Thank you Prof. Wright, and I look forward to hearing more from you on some of the websites you referenced. Best wishes, Beatrice
par Joanne Q•
The content of the course is accessible for those newer to the study of Buddhism or psychology, at the same time offering new and intriguing ideas and resources for folks like myself who have some experience in both studies. Dr. Wright does a brilliant job of guiding the student through the materials using interview videos with experts from across disciplines. If any changes were to be made to this course, I would suggest incorporating other kinds of videos and adding a reference list of all the research referenced during the course (providing the research would be especially awesome - the Science of Happiness course does a brilliant job of this). Many thanks for the opportunity to learn from and dialogue with Dr. Wright and all his accomplished and interesting guests.
par Nicholas L•
Very, very good course! Educational, of course, but also thought-provoking and entertaining. I was impressed by the level of class participation, which is a tribute to Professor Wright's ability to explain and motivate. I did not always agree with some of Wright's conclusions concerning modern science and Buddhism -- in fact, I probably disagreed more than most (the idea of "Modern Science" and how that phrase was interpreted is particularly artificial). But Professor Wright knows his stuff and that's what I expect from an instructor at Princeton. If Buddhism is new to you, this course works. If, like me, you have some knowledge of Buddhist teachings and/or the newest theories in brain function, this course works. Full stop. Thank you, Professor Wright.
par Clifford L•
For the past 1-1/2 years, I take a weekly class on mindfulness meditation and try to practice it everyday. I have found that this course is the right course for me to take at my beginning stage to learn about Buddhism. The course has prompted me to study Buddhism even more deeply. The professor is excellent. He is very knowledgeable and does a good job of presenting very important Buddhist ideas and the modern scientific research to verify them. The only constructive criticism I have is that for some people, it might be better to read rather than to listen to his lectures. Maybe it's because I am more of a visual rather than an aural person. In any case, I heartily recommend this course if you are interested in a good introduction to Buddhism.
par Axel J B B•
This was an incredibly well-structured, understandable and deeply fulfilling MOOC. Professor Wright manages to keep a professional, clear and friendly tone throughout the whole course, brilliantly interweaving naturalistic Buddhism with some of the latest theories in Modern Psychology and manages to make a very convincing and alluring connection between the human mind and Buddhist thought about the human predicament and everything that spins around it. I didn't think it was possible to do until I took this course. Spirituality, Science & Religion interconnected in a profound, interesting and captivating hypothesis. I would highly recommend for anyone interested in learning about the human mind and also achieving some peace of mind along the way!
par Dorothy H•
This might be the best course I've ever taken anywhere! My opinion is based on deep personal interest in meditation and psychology so might be biased, but I also actually designed my own degree of Buddhism and Psychology decades ago and have taken a great many courses and have quite a bit of experience in both subjects. I have been meditating for almost 40 years and now meditate once every four hours. Hearing someone lecture so eloquently while incorporating the input of actual meditators and his own meditation experience as well as rigorous academic and scientific discussion was an absolute delight. Also, the professor is downright charming in his office hours segments. I would give this course 10 stars if I could!
This course is exceptional. It breaks down the fundamental concepts of Buddhism and supports them with modern science. A common sentiment in Buddhism is an openness to critique. It's scripture suggests that rather than taking the ideas at face value we try them out for ourselves. The Dalai Lama has said things like, "If science disproves reincarnation, I will stop teaching it." Dr. Wright takes the ideas of Buddhism and holds them up to the scrutiny of modern psychology. What you discover as the course goes along is that science backs up these concepts the historical Buddha went around teaching 2000 years ago. I found the course enlightening and it's something I think about years after having taken it.
par Yair D•
Very interesting topic and material (I especially liked the results presented from Psychology research)! The teaching is very good with good pacing and clear presentation of the material (I also liked Prof. Wright's somewhat dry sense of humor, personally).
The load is a bit demanding for a working person if you insist on doing all the extra reading and viewing the extra material (which I did anyway, because it was interesting and I am stubborn :) ) but it's only 6 weeks so you can pull through it, or just stay with the core.
I got out of this course with many interesting ideas to think about, and with 2 books I from which I read some chapters that I would very much like to go on and read completely.
par Annika D•
I really loved the course.
Mr. Wright really did a good job of breaking down this very complex content and communicating it very clearly (with simple, everyday examples, which I find very charming).
I like the approach of always combining Buddhist ideas with scientific knowledge. I've meditated before, but now I know what the exact background is and what's going on in my brain during that.
I had no previous experience in the field and was able to follow the course very well.
Now I've become a bit more curious and want to learn more about it, so I bought "Why everyone else is a hypocrite" by Rob Kurzban and I'm reading it right now.
Thank you very much for providing this course!
par abigail h•
I found this course fascinating from start to finish. The light hearted and entertaining Bob talks you through the concepts, joined by his special guests to shed light and alternative argument on the subjects is well balanced and super interesting. I also enjoyed the further suggested reading and reviewing my peers assignments to see their interpretation on the lessons discussed in the lectures. This was my first course on the platform, but I will definitely take another. The system was user friendly and created an accessible learning environment. Thank you to everyone involved, it has been an excellent experience and has left me inspired and motivated for further learning.
par Emma T•
Over the years I have started many, many online courses and rarely find them engaging enough to hold my attention until the end. This course was a rare exception, I found it utterly fascinating from the very beginning. When I signed up, I hadn't really intended to submit any of the assignments, but ended up submitting everything because I found the course material so interesting. I thought the style of the lectures was excellent too; plenty of information, presented in an interesting and easy to understand way. I plan to do a lot of further reading/study now on all areas covered in the course. Thank you to the course team for a really enjoyable learning experience :-)
par Alberto G C•
Very delightful course as it is more than well taught and full of interesting data, opinions and experiments. The videos are very helpful and provide us of a large names to look for and read about. The resources are pretty enough and interesting. Office hours have been a discover: great questions from students and "being at home chatting with Robert" feeling all around.
I appreciate so much Robert´s enthusiasm and above all, his natural and funny way to explain course concepts with his dogs or with his attachments to dark chocolate or powdered sugar doughnuts.
Many thanks to Robert and to all the technical stuff for providing us this course with all the work they had done.
par eduardo c•
Es un muy buen curso, especialmente por su apertura a las nuevas corrientes de la ciencia, en particular, las neurociencias y las experiencias que investigan los cambios a largo plazo en el cerebro de quienes meditan o han meditado durante mucho tiempo. Muy buen profesor, Robert Wright establece excelente rapport con la audiencia con la ayuda inestimable de sus mascotas, Milo y Frazer. Plantea dudas para ampliar el scope de sus análisis, ofrece varias alternativas ya exploradas y videos de quienes las desarrollaron. Este es un punto muy alto del curso. En síntesis, muy conforme, felicidades al profesor Wright, logró cautivar mi atención en muchos de sus videos.
par Nighat M•
This is a wonderful course, both in terms of well-organized content, office hours and reference materials and in terms of insights it provides into a Buddhist way of life. I also enjoy the interviews Prof Wright conducts on Meaningoflife.tve.
I have benefited tremendously from regularly listening to the lectures and the reading materials assigned for this course, and have recommended it to several friends. Prof Wright is a great teacher, and I love his elegant, understated sense of humor.
I haven't been active on the discussion forum or FB. Nor have I been able to submit the first assignment yet, but this does not mean I am not following the course diligently.
par Mariam A•
Excellent course! I had the chance of taking it around the same time Prof. Wright's book, Why Buddhism is True, hit the shelves, so I enjoyed reading several interviews about the book and the subject of this course in mainstream Buddhist online magazines and publications. It was really interesting to put it all in perspective and read the critiques' opinion pieces too. The course itself is very well organized, the structure is clear, with many references, good examples, even anecdotes. Dr Wright's teaching style is lighthearted and enjoyable, yet very clear and on point. If you have an interest in evolutionary psychology and Buddhism, don't miss this course.
par Mark L•
Four and a half stars!
I enjoyed this course and learned a lot from it. As a meditator, someone who has an interest in science and pshchology as well as buddhism, I found the course enlightening and was particularly interested in some of the parallels drawn between the buddhism and modern psychology. This course provides insight into the workings of the mind. Points for improvement are amending the time requirements as the additional resource section took hours to complete rather than the 10 minutes or so alloted. I liked Robert style and the way he shares his thinking process, but sometimes felt he could have got to the point a bit quicker than he does.
par Brittany H•
Thoroughly enjoyed the content of this course, and writing the two written assessments. Peer reviewing assessments was a new experience, but I enjoyed reading other peoples views and thoughts and research. I was able to take my learnings and not only use it in my personal and professional life but also able to review it in terms to the similarity it has to my own culture and has really encouraged a break-through perspective to my outlook. Highly recommend - although I personally prefer self-directed research, and struggled to walk some of the video lectures, they were filled with information and were a great insight to support my own research. 10/10
par Madras A R K•
I found this course a lot of learning and great deal of fun. Prof. Wright's method of teaching allows us to come up with our own ideas and insights from our experiences and journey. I found the extra suggested readings, more importantly the video discussions (one hour long with Bhikku Bodhi, Prof Kurzban) meaningful and augmented the learning substantially. I am planning to enroll in Vipasana for 10 days in Igatpuri, India.
Also the last two weeks I was in Myanmar and met with Therevada Monks. The country follows the teachings of the Buddha quite in a pure form. Most kids go through being a 'novice'. Most come out. But that grounding seems to help.
par David D•
I really enjoyed this course which was novel to combine some of the essential Buddhist teaching with what modern psychology could support and interpret. I would say, even if you studied psychology and read some Buddhist writers, that Dr. Wright delivers a professional and engaging course that will give one food for thought as well as making clear some esoteric Buddhist concepts one may struggle with. It's refreshing to find similarities between what science and the Buddha postulate regarding the self, attachment and that the assigning of form/feelings to our environment may cause unhappiness/dissatisfaction. Great course and well presented!
par Olivia G•
I have never encountered a discussion of the first two noble truths that made so much sense to me. Having studied biology and discovered that science could not give me the answers I was seeking, I explored many different thought avenues. I am not a Buddhist, but I can identify with Buddhist thought. But what I absolutely agree with is what His Holiness the Dalai Lama says about the necessary collaboration between Buddhism and science. I think it is the only way for humanity to go to the next level and I think all spiritual and scientific directions should participate in the dialogue.
I am looking forward to the rest of the course.
par Juan N•
What a great course! It may sound a bit dry or tedious but Robert, the instructor, makes it very exciting and above all hilarious. I'm not sure if he's aware of it but he's a really funny guy. The course strikes a good balance between the seemingly abstract ideas of Buddhism and the learning and insights from psychology. The course starts off quite basic and gradually builds up solid pieces of (sometimes sophisticated) proof/insights that logically answers the question if Buddhism can be considered a (naturalistic) religion. Highly recommended if you're interested in the topic of meditation/mindfulness with a light spiritual touch!
par Ann S•
Loved this course. It was a lot of fun. The Prof. really cares about the subject and how his students contribute to his own understanding of it. (He takes a lot of time reading students' comments and replying to them during "office hours.") He also reaches out to experts in both psychology and Buddhism and shows you his dialogue with them. Finally, the guiding questions for the assignments are a good challenge and the instructions for structuring the paper very clear. I didn't have time to write the papers but will as soon as I've the time. Bonus: you get to meet his dogs, and they're awesome.
I've taken more than 10 courses on coursera, edx and udacity and this is the one course that I love most so far! I've read a few books on meditation and evolution by now and I have to say I learned from this professor more than any other people on these two subjects. And let's not forget it's actually a course on buddhism. So thank you so much for this course! One big aha moment for me for example is "evolution doesn't care about whether we're happy but it does care that we care about we're being happy. And that's how evolution 'designed' us to do its bidding." That's so mind blowing.