Yale University

The Nature of Genius

15,047 already enrolled

Included withCoursera Plus


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Craig Wright

Instructor: Craig Wright

Top Instructor


(157 reviews)

Beginner level

Recommended experience

28 hours to complete
3 weeks at 9 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

What you'll learn

  • How to create your own definition of genius

  • The internal and external factors that allow genius to flourish

  • Which attributes are commonly found in those deemed to be "geniuses"

Details to know

Earn a career certificate

Add to your LinkedIn profile


11 quizzes

Taught in English

See how employees at top companies are mastering in-demand skills


Earn a career certificate

Add this credential to your LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV

Share it on social media and in your performance review


There are 4 modules in this course

In Section 1 of Module 1 we determine, jokingly, whether you're a genius or not, provide examples of geniuses as opposed to mere celebrities or prodigies, and discover how what defines "genius" is highly subjective and ever-changing. In Section 2 we look at genius and gender. We discuss the disadvantages that the few female geniuses who do come down to us in our history book faced in their societies. We consider how far we may have progressed and what opposition still remains for women today. In Section 3 we look at genius in relationship to race, geography and society. We talk about the importance of originality in genius and about what societal factors can either encourage or discourage genius.

What's included

13 videos6 readings3 quizzes7 discussion prompts

In Section 1 of Module 2 we jump into the age-old question: is it nature or is it nurture? We'll talk about the growing science of epigenetics, the many forms of intelligence and how to best measure each. In Section 2 we consider neoteny in genius. How employing childlike thinking could be a key to genius. We'll also take some time to explore in-depth one of the more famous neotenic geniuses from our past, Mozart. Then we'll move on to discover how we deal with our young prodigies and savants in ways that may actually prevent genius from blossoming. In Section 3 we'll get down to brass tacks and talk about money's role in genius. Do you need to be rich to be a genius? What should geniuses do with their money once they accumulate it?

What's included

12 videos2 readings3 quizzes7 discussion prompts

Module 3 delves into the enablers of genius to see what drives them and what allows them to achieve such singular greatness in their lifetimes. Section 1 entitled "curiosity and a tolerance for risk," may go a long way to explaining the just-asked question. We'll study perhaps the single most curious person in history, the great, Leonardo da Vinci, and look in on a typical day in his life. In Section 2 we'll move on to explore creativity and great polymaths in history. We'll take time to examine how they think and where their ideas came from. In Section 3 we'll talk passions; the inevitable endpoint for anyone with great curiosity, is passion. Once these polymaths stumble on something of interest, they become passionate, and passion can carry them along some unusual paths. We'll explore a few of them.

What's included

12 videos3 readings3 quizzes7 discussion prompts

In Module 4 we start by looking at morality and genius. As you might expect by now, they do not always go hand in hand. We'll explore a few examples of the rebellious nature of most geniuses, and the personally destructive nature of several others, and we will consider the relationship between genius and so-called "disabilities." Finally, we'll step back and ask the following question: To what degree are we as individuals willing to tolerate bad behavior and, indeed, personal destruction, in order to benefit from the creative innovation that the genius brings to society? Finally, we end by suggesting the personal and societal implications inherent in the study of genius. We'll send you off by suggesting how you, and society, might employ the knowledge you've gained as you have explored "The Nature of Genius."

What's included

6 videos2 readings2 quizzes6 discussion prompts


Instructor ratings
5.0 (106 ratings)
Craig Wright

Top Instructor

Yale University
3 Courses259,715 learners

Offered by

Yale University

Recommended if you're interested in Psychology

Why people choose Coursera for their career

Felipe M.
Learner since 2018
"To be able to take courses at my own pace and rhythm has been an amazing experience. I can learn whenever it fits my schedule and mood."
Jennifer J.
Learner since 2020
"I directly applied the concepts and skills I learned from my courses to an exciting new project at work."
Larry W.
Learner since 2021
"When I need courses on topics that my university doesn't offer, Coursera is one of the best places to go."
Chaitanya A.
"Learning isn't just about being better at your job: it's so much more than that. Coursera allows me to learn without limits."

Learner reviews

Showing 3 of 157


157 reviews

  • 5 stars


  • 4 stars


  • 3 stars


  • 2 stars


  • 1 star



Reviewed on May 14, 2024


Reviewed on Nov 9, 2022


Reviewed on Apr 7, 2023

New to Psychology? Start here.


Open new doors with Coursera Plus

Unlimited access to 7,000+ world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs - all included in your subscription

Advance your career with an online degree

Earn a degree from world-class universities - 100% online

Join over 3,400 global companies that choose Coursera for Business

Upskill your employees to excel in the digital economy

Frequently asked questions