The Nature of Genius

Online Immersion Program

Course Title:
The Nature of Genius

Craig Wright

June 13 - 24, 2021

Meeting Times: (Course meets twice a day)

Monday, June 14th 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 16th 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Friday, June 18th 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, June 20th  11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, June 22nd 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
Thursday, June 24th 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET

Registration Fee:

Register Now

Course Description

What is genius? Is it a myth or a reality, an absolute or a relative designation? In this immersive course, you’ll examine why and how the human psyche produces genius. Spend twelve sessions over two weeks with Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music Emeritus, Craig M. Wright and his special guest lecturers. Your theme of inquiry is inspired by Professor Wright’s popular Yale College course on genius and his recently published book, The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit – Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness.  

Yale Alumni Academy brings you this intimate group study experience where you’ll take a deep dive into the minds of the creative geniuses that Professor Wright has spent a lifetime studying. His scholarship began with Mozart and Beethoven, and has extended in more recently decades to Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Edison and Tesla, Einstein, Woolf, Picasso, and Churchill. Drawing upon this broad body of work, the charge will be to explore together how geniuses think, what their special character traits are, and how we too might begin to think as they do. 

Through in-depth readings including biography, analyses and contextual sources, you’ll expand your knowledge of the nature of genius, then come together with fellow alumni participants to discuss and wrestle with the truths behind the phenomena. Although the framework will be a traditional “great minds of Western culture” course based on Professor Wright’s half-century of exploration, from it will emerge practical recommendations for how you might make your own life, and those of children and grandchildren, richer, more creative, and more harmonious.

Information Links

Hidden Habits of Genius
  • Preview Lecture

The Hidden Habits of Genius

In this 90-minute presentation Professor Craig Wright takes us on a journey into the minds of geniuses and posits thought-provoking questions about what makes them extraordinary. Looking at a combination of scientific studies, anecdotes, and historical figures, he tells the story of genius throughout the ages and considers what we might learn from understanding the innate factors, environmental influences, and cultural forces that give rise to genius.

Information Links

Craig Wright
  • About the Professor

Craig Wright

Studied piano and music history at the Eastman School of Music (1962-1966) and went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology at Harvard (1966-1972). While at Harvard he attended numerous Red Sox games, played chess with pianist Robert Levin (still a close friend), and, as a teaching assistant, taught composer John Adams—all survived the experience. After a pleasant year teaching at the University of Kentucky in Lexington (1972-1973), Wright moved to Yale, serving as chair of the School of Music from 1986-1992 and becoming the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music in 2006. At the undergraduate level he teaches a basic music appreciation course (one of Yale's largest) and the music history course required of majors in Medieval and Renaissance music. His music appreciation course, "Listening to Music" is currently the fourth most popular online course in China. At Yale, Wright has also developed an interdisciplinary course, "Exploring the Nature of Genius," which has attracted a strong...

Syllabus Outline & Sample Readings

Syllabus Outline

  • Sessions 1-4: Introductions and Preliminary Considerations
    • Defining genius
    • Dangers of a narrative fallacy
    • Gender, Race and genius
    • Prodigies
  • Sessions 5-7: The Domains of Genius
    • Nature vs. nurture​​​​​​
    • Creativity
    • Leveraging difference
  • Sessions 8-10: The Enablers of Genius
    • Empathy vs. pathology
    • Creative destruction
    • Genius and money
  • Sessions 10-12: Moral Issues and Conclusions
    • Genius for you
    • Genius for your children
    • Genius for society

Sample of Readings:

Required readings are sold separately at the participants additional expense. A full list of readings will be provided by the professor after registration. Yale Alumni Academy will provide links to purchase books, free PDFs, and video links will be provided after registration. Please contact if you have any questions or would like additional information before registering.

Terms & Conditions

Info Accordions

The online immersion experience begins as soon as you register and receive your books. You'll join the private online course community where you can meet and connect with fellow alumni scholars in the group and chat virtually about ideas and inspirations from your readings in preparation for the course. By June, you'll be ready for two weeks of intensive study alongside a collegial group of dedicated learners and Professor Wright.

The main course sessions will include a total of 20 hours of small-group sessions led by faculty and guest speakers. Alumni participants will come together for a scholarly endeavor that hearkens to the days of being a student on Yale's campus. Seminar-style discussions provide ample opportunity to engage with experts and peers, informed by comprehensive readings and complementary materials from Yale's collections: galleries, libraries and museums. Special guest speakers add context to the themes of the syllabus, and evening salons create space to share new ideas and understandings from the lectures and readings. This program has been specially designed for Yale Alumni Academy by Professor Wright. We invite you to enjoy the privilege of an intimate and bespoke classroom experience with an excellent faculty leader.

PROGRAM PARTICIPATION The right is retained to decline, to accept, or to retain any person as a member of this program who, in the opinion of the Yale Alumni Association ("YAA") is unfit to participate or whose physical or mental condition may constitute a danger to themselves or to others in the program. Participants must adhere to the participation guidelines throughout the course. In the event of disruptive behavior, the YAA reserves the right to terminate an individual's participation in the course without a refund.

PROPRIETARY PROGRAM INFORMATION Course materials, syllabus, contents and video sessions are proprietary content of the presenters and Yale University and may not be downloaded or recorded, neither may they be shared with anyone who is not registered for the course as a paid participant.

CANCELLATION You may cancel your participation in this program for a full refund within seven (7) calendar days of your confirmed registration. After seven days, you will be subject to a $300 non-refundable administrative fee. All cancellations are non-refundable at 30 days prior to the program start date. Cancellations must be made in writing to YAA, via email at No refunds will be made after the commencement of the course.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE Payment in full is due with your confirmed program registration.

CHANGES IN PROGRAM SCHEDULE AND COSTS The program schedule and syllabus are subject to change at the discretion of the YAA and faculty leaders. Any additional reading materials and course supplies must be purchased separately at the expense of the program participant as outlined in the syllabus.

RESPONSIBILITY CLAUSE YAA reserves the right to accept or decline any person as a participant at any time, or to require any participant to withdraw from The Program at their own expense when such an action is determined by YAA to be in the best interest of the participant's health and safety, or the general welfare of the other participants.

AUTHORITY TO USE IMAGES AND AUDIO RECORDINGS On occasion, YAA obtains, from its staff or from program participants, photographic or video images of program activities. By participating in this online program, you authorize YAA, without providing compensation to you, or obtaining additional approvals from you, to include photographic and video recordings of you, as well as voice recordings included with any videos, in sales, marketing, advertising, publicity and/or training activities.