The program in critical social thought is designed for students with a passion for ideas, a desire to ask probing questions about social realities, and an independent approach to education. This interdisciplinary program explores the place of thought in history and society, and the ways in which ideas both are generated by and generate concrete practice. Critical social thought embraces the historical forces that have shaped contemporary experience; the creative expressions that have emerged to represent that experience; and the conceptual and political tensions between truth and uncertainty, individuality and community, power and freedom, cruelty and justice in the modern age. Treating common sense and conventional beliefs as points of departure rather than predetermined points of arrival, critical social thought pivots on questioning the taken-for-granted from all angles.
While acquainting students with a variety of intellectual traditions, this program also requires each of its majors and minors to combine different thinkers and currents of thought to engage with a theme or question of her original design. Students have explored topics such as the Western Canon and its critics; the causes of peace and conflict; postcolonial studies; architecture and the social organization of space; social inequality, ethical values, and social change; and disenchantment and fractured identities in cross-cultural contexts.