Syllabus – Premonitions: A Peek into the Future

Instructor: Christopher Laursen, PhD

Course Description

This four-week course provides humanities-focused, transdisciplinary routes into historical and contemporary experiences, ideas, and studies into premonitions – “a feeling or sense about a future event” (as the experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Julia Mossbridge and author Theresa Cheung define them in their 2018 book The Premonition Code). While the term premonition is best known, researchers more often use the term precognition to refer to ways of knowing or being influenced by information about future events outside of prediction “using memory, logic or your five senses” (Mossbridge and Cheung). The two words tend to be used interchangeably.

How can we come to terms with meaningful precognitive experiences – whether we ourselves experience precognition firsthand, or if we hear about such experiences from other people, in research, or in popular culture?

We’ll explore how a variety of experiencers, researchers, and societies have worked to make sense of precognition at the boundaries of knowledge-making. What roles do culture, consciousness, and one’s own life contexts have in considering the meaning found in precognitive experiences? In exploring these roles, we’ll gain a better understanding of why precognition matters in an accessible, thought-provoking way.

We’ll consider how precognition becomes discussed and applied on personal, social, and cultural scales. How do precognitive experiences become integrated into individuals’ lives? How are they translated by societies and cultures? How to navigate diverse perspectives, beliefs, and doubts about precognition? You’ll gain tools that you can apply both to advancing your studies of psi as well as exploring experiences.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define premonitions and precognition in relation to historical experiences, major questions and ideas, and how to consider other people’s extraordinary experiences
  • Compare the types of research on precognition and reactions to them
  • Appraise the crucial roles of personal, social, and cultural contexts and meaningfulness in relation to precognitive experiences
  • Integrate sharing subjective experiences and ideas alongside objectively assessing multiple perspectives in online discussions

Course Outline

Week 1: Introduction: How to Come to Terms with Premonitions and Precognition

  • Definition of terms
  • Scope of the phenomena
  • Historical experiences
  • Introducing major questions and ideas in the sciences and across cultures
  • Empathy and the consideration of other people’s precognitions
  • Tools to come to terms with precognitive experiences

Week 2: Boundaries: How Have Answers Been Sought at the Edges of Science and Society?

  • The roles of boundary work in the sciences
  • Early studies of precognition
  • Parapsychological studies on precognition
  • “Feeling the Future” and the replication crisis
  • Interdisciplinary studies on precognition
  • Tools to compare historical and contemporary perspectives on precognition

Week 3: Lifeworlds: How to Consider Contexts and Meaningfulness

  • Micro and macro: Personal boundaries, consciousness, and cultures
  • The contextual qualities of precognition
  • Realizing meaningfulness in precognitive events
  • Authorizing a meaningful unfolding and its obstacles
  • Decolonizing precognition
  • Tools to better consider contexts and meaningfulness of precognition

Week 4: Integrations: How to Bring Together Critical Perspectives

  • Pushing past boundaries, from experience to integration
  • The meaningful intersection of precognition with other types of psi experiences
  • Navigating relationships between precognitive experiencers, researchers, and skeptical thinkers
  • How non-human animal and earth science studies on precognition matter
  • From interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary studies of precognition
  • Tools to integrate experiences and research of precognition

Course Materials

Recommended Books: To delve further into the latest thinking on premonitions to complement lectures and discussions, if you have the time, it’s recommended that you acquire Eric Wargo’s book Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious (Anomalist Books, 2018).

To work with precognition and learn more, you might also value Eric Wargo’s Precognitive Dreamwork and the Long Self: Interpreting Messages from Your Future (Inner Traditions, 2021) and Theresa Cheung and Julia Mossbridge’s The Premonition Code: The Science of Precognition: How Sensing the Future Can Change Your Life (Watkins, 2018).

These books are not required, but reading them alongside the course – or after it – will enrich your understanding of precognition.

Recommended Bonus Lecture:Christopher Laursen delivers an online talk to the Rhine on Friday, May 6, on the tragic 1966 flowslide disaster in Aberfan, Wales, to exemplify precognitive experiences and studies into them. If you miss it, you can watch the presentation to supplement the course from the Rhine Video Library.

Other Course Materials, including written, video, and audio along with useful weblinks, will be included as supplements in the course. There will also be resources for further exploration of topics and methods covered.

To Get the Most out of the Class

Join us to watch the live broadcast or watch the recording at your leisure. Log into the RhineEdu Courseroom, meet your classmates, join the discussions, and take advantage of the free materials uploaded to the classroom for further study. No graded assigments will be required for this course.