Professor Tracey Stark uses the blockbuster sci-fi movie series to explore the work of Plato, Descartes and other philosophers. "'The Matrix' is like a contemporary myth," said Stark, "and it can be useful as a good starting point to talk about ethics and responsibility."
As a springboard to existential questions, Stark's students are left asking themselves, "How do we know we're not living in the Matrix?"
Life has its unexplained mysteries. Little did Stark know, when she proposed the class last year, that "Matrix" co-writer and director Andy Wachowski is an Emerson alum -- or perhaps this is something evil machines have programmed into our collective memories.
4. Rich Lessons in Donald Trump
You can't be fired if you don't watch "The Apprentice," but you can flunk out of a class at the University of Washington.
"I was watching the show last year, and I was thinking, 'I wish I could get students talking about this in a constructive way,' " said professor Laura Schildkraut.
Getting people to talk about Donald Trump, however, is not so hard to do. "Management Lessons From 'The Apprentice' " filled up instantly last year, with 80 undergraduate students eager to look at the business school rationale behind the Trump boardroom.
Business schools all over the country are abuzz with Trump's show -- just as barber academies are debating his wacky hairdo -- but Schildkraut is the first to start a 10-week course devoted to the program.
Trump, who famously sought to copyright his "You're Fired" trademark, has yet to seek royalties from the Seattle school. In fact, George Ross, Trump's executive vice president, who oversees some of the tasks on the show, spoke to students last semester in a 60-minute teleconference.
As for the current season, Schildkraut thinks Kelly and Jennifer C. have qualities to win the show and make it in big business.
"Kelly stays clear-minded and doesn't get caught up in the intrigue," she says. "Jen isn't afraid to speak up, and she can do it without alienating herself or her manager."
Still, last season's "Apprentice" may have been a good argument to stay out of business school. Self-made contestant Bill Rancic beat out Ivy Leaguer Kwame Jackson to win the $250,000-a-year position as one of Trump's assistants.
Nevertheless, Schildkraut has a new crop of students this semester, and they're just as enthusiastic. Just before Thanksgiving vacation, she's already promised to let them watch their favorite episode from last season -- the one in which the conniving Omarosa gets the boot.
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays.