Drawing on the disciplines that make up the Humanities and the considerable resources at UF in support of the Humanities, this course investigates the very nature and experience of being human. Applying multi-disciplinary approaches, students consider the cost of the good life, examine how people have chosen to live as members of local and global communities, and analyze conceptions and expressions of beauty, power, love, and health.

Part 1 (Individual) and Part 2 (Society) of the course consist of “gateway” readings and works, common to all sections regardless of the instructor, and “pillar” readings and works, assigned by the faculty to the students in their sections. Faculty select pillars to complement the gateways while also drawing on their own areas of interest and expertise. For Part 3, students explore in depth a Special Topic, which is developed by their professor and is the subject of their term paper. Part 3 provides a synthesis of the materials covered in Parts 1 and 2. For Part 4 (This I Believe), students reflect on what they have learned through a short audio essay.


Students are provided instruction in multi-disciplinary approaches used in the humanities to study the good life through an analysis of juxtaposed works of art, architecture, history, literature, music, religion, and philosophy.

  • Content Objectives: Students will identify how different people from different societies across time conceptualize the good life, what meaning and value individuals ascribe to the lives that they live or want to live, and what are the choices, costs, and benefits of the good life.
  • Communication Objectives: Students will communicate concepts, expressions, and representations of the good life clearly and effectively in written and oral form as stated in the rubrics of the course.
  • Critical Thinking Objectives: Students will analyze the conflicts and tensions that arise between the individual and the community, the normative and the exceptional, culture and nature, needs and wants, pleasure and happiness, short-term benefits and long-term consequences of the pursuit of the good life. They will critically evaluate the costs and benefits of the good life in order to make sound decisions
Fall and Spring
  • Sections meet in the classroom once per week for a discussion led by an instructor or TA. The other two contact hours are an online lecture (or the equivalent) and an online discussion.

Summer B

  • Sections meet in the classroom four days per week for a total of four periods (75 minutes per period): Monday and Wednesday for lectures, delivered by the head instructor, and Tuesday and Thursday for a classroom discussion, led by the TA. The final contact hour is an online discussion.

Fully online sections are available only to students enrolled in UF Online programs.


Each section uses E-Learning to post the syllabus, course materials, and announcements as well as to release grades. Students are expected to check the course page in E-Learning regularly. Registered students will be able to view course information by the first day of the semester. 


IDS 1161 is taught in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS). Times and locations of the individual sections can be found in the Registrar’s Schedule of Courses.