Curiosity Studies

A New Ecology of Knowledge

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Perry Zurn
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Arjun Shankar

From science and technology to business and education, curiosity is often taken for granted as an unquestioned good. And yet, few people can define curiosity. Curiosity Studies marshals scholars from more than a dozen fields not only to define curiosity but also to grapple with its ethics as well as its role in technological advancement and global citizenship. While intriguing research on curiosity has occurred in numerous disciplines for decades, no rigorously cross-disciplinary study has existed—until now.

Curiosity Studies stages an interdisciplinary conversation about what curiosity is and what resources it holds for human and ecological flourishing. These engaging essays are integrated into four clusters: scientific inquiry, educational practice, social relations, and transformative power. By exploring curiosity through the practice of scientific inquiry, the contours of human learning, the stakes of social difference, and the potential of radical imagination, these clusters focus and reinvigorate the study of this universal but slippery phenomenon: the desire to know.

Against the assumption that curiosity is neutral, this volume insists that curiosity has a history and a political import and requires precision to define and operationalize. As various fields deepen its analysis, a new ecosystem for knowledge production can flourish, driven by real-world problems and a commitment to solve them in collaboration. By paying particular attention to pedagogy throughout, Curiosity Studies equips us to live critically and creatively in what might be called our new Age of Curiosity.

Background photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash.

Curiosity on Manifold

Welcome to Curiosity Studies on the Manifold platform! At its best, curiosity is a practice of exploration. Whether pursued independently or in community, curiosity is an open-ended, often unstructured activity. It is our hope that this site provides you with the tools to navigate Curiosity Studies curiously. Read the book frontwards, backwards, and sideways. The entire text is open access and assistive device friendly. Dive down rabbit holes by clicking on media supplements in the margins. Get acquainted with our authors by perusing the “Contributor Profiles.” There, you'll find extended bios, pedagogical ideas, and additional resources (e.g., curiosity-related videos, interviews, articles, and books). Special thanks to Lynn Borton, Executive Producer of the Choose to be Curious podcast, for dedicating a 12-episode series to our contributors. Ultimately, Curiosity Studies itself is a living project. Stay tuned for future expansions in content, as well as online community features and crowd-sourcing initiatives. We are excited to serve as a hub for future work in #curiositystudies.

Recent Activity

  • If you missed it yesterday, check out the recording of the #CuriosityStudies book launch at Georgetown's…

  • Interested in more ⁦@arjshankar⁩ on curiosity after ⁦@MortaraCenter⁩ panel on #curiositystudies? Capitalist Curios…

  • Interested in more @perryzurn on curiosity after ⁦@MortaraCenter⁩ panel on #curiositystudies? ⁦⁩ Curiosity Studies:…

  • Interested in more on curiosity after ⁦@MortaraCenter⁩ panel on #curiositystudies? Curious Entanglements, with Chri…

  • “What might it be if language didn’t sediment our position and where we are with learning?” - Christina Leon Wow.…

  • Thrilled to be speaking this Thursday 12pm @MortaraCenter, Georgetown, about #curiositystudies (recently released b…

Contributor Profiles

Featured below are in-depth profiles for each of the volume contributors. Click on their names to learn more about their research and ways to engage their work in the classroom.


  • rights
    The University of Minnesota Press gratefully acknowledges support for the open-access version of this book from American University Library, Colgate University, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and the American Philosophical Association.

    “Self-portrait as a Karen” is reprinted from Kay Gabriel, Elegy Department Spring (BOAAT Press, 2017) by permission of the poet.

    Copyright 2020 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
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    University of Minnesota Press
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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    Regents of the University of Minnesota