Discovery Tier Guiding Questions

Basic Needs and Justice

  1. How do we define basic needs and justice? 
  2. What should individuals and communities be asked to sacrifice to contribute to the greater good and the creation of a just society?
  3. To what extent are education, information, and knowledge basic needs?

Cognition, Memory, and Intelligence

  1. How can a deeper understanding of the mind—what it is, how it works, the nature of imagination, the role of memory, modes of cognition—enable us to rethink our interactions with the natural world and human society?
  2. In what ways do diverse scientific and humanistic approaches contribute to, or limit, our understanding of concepts such as mind, thought, memory, imagination, and identity? How can these approaches be integrated to form a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be human, how we should interact with one another, and how we are connected to the rest of the world?
  3. How do disciplines take account of the way cognitive biases, perceptual limitations, and cultural influences affect the way we understand what it means to be human and how we interact with our world?

Crossing Boundaries

  1. Why and how are boundaries created? How do they limit us and how can we approach boundaries in ways that promote social justice and equity?
  2. How is crossing boundaries impacted by conditions such as climate, limited access to resources, and conflict?
  3. What happens when boundaries become porous or disappear? What opportunities and challenges do these social, material, and ideological changes present?

Expanding Our Horizons

  1. How do we know what we claim to know? How do we identify what we do not know?
  2. Given this fundamental task of recognizing the boundaries of our knowledge, how do we pose questions that expand approaches to key problems and their disciplinary frames of reference?

Individuals and Communities

  1. How does ignorance—not just the absence of knowledge but also the conscious desire to avoid certain questions or topics—affect the construction of community and the perpetuation of injustice? Can one critically assess the various assumptions implicit to their community when these are often invisible (or kept invisible) and yet indispensable to shaping one’s worldview?
  2. Can a community be built not through the search for sameness but through the emphasis on difference? Is it possible to develop “an authentic self” or even a sense of community when central aspects of one’s identity are not valued by their society?  Does social integration require a certain degree of self-alienation?
  3. How does one balance the commitments they have to their community (or communities) and those to their self, especially when these conflict with each another? Can one be a member of multiple communities in a substantive way?

Developed with support from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.