• Length:
    5 Weeks
  • Effort:
    1–5 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time

About this course

Skip About this course

Pow! Bang! Kaboom! Superhero stories, first arriving on the scene in the late 1930s, are now among the most popular forms of global entertainment. The study of philosophy has been around for centuries. Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes, a SmithsonianX and Harvard Division of Continuing Education course, blends these superheroes narratives with the core areas of philosophy.

SmithsonianX has partnered with the Harvard Division of Continuing Education to bring this course from the Harvard Extension School to edX. This introductory philosophy course, led by Professor Christopher Robichaud of the Harvard Kennedy School, offers an exciting lens to interpret key philosophical ideas — metaphysics and epistemology, social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, existentialism, moral relativism, and much more.

From Superman's embrace of truth, justice, and the American way to Wonder Woman's efforts at promoting peace rather than war, from Spider-Man's personal struggles at balancing his romantic life with his crime fighting exploits to the X-Men's social struggles with combating prejudice, Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes will give you the chance to explore philosophy through the many superhero narratives via videos, readings, and a meaningful course community. We invite both those new to philosophy and philosophy lovers to join us on this journey!

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Fundamentals of introductory philosophy
  • The ability to consider, evaluate, and articulate philosophical ideas through superheroes and beyond
  • The relationship of superhero identity with ethics and moral philosophy

Meet your instructors

Christopher Robichaud
Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School of Government

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Frequently asked questions

Q: Do I need to know about superheroes to enjoy this courses.
A: Absolutely not! This is for superhero lovers and newcomers alike. We'll be using accessible stories to introduce you to some big philosophical principles.