Bogotá is a portentous and unruly city, a beast of numerous maverick heads slumping in the core of Colombia, serving as the country’s heart, brains—and if the air were less polluted, its lungs, too—thumping arrhythmically to the beat of inequality.

It might seem unusual that someone who researches how canines acquire knowledge based on information gathered from their surroundings would teach college students how to be happy. And yet, in her course Psychology and the Good Life, which attracted roughly one-quarter of the student body at Yale University last spring and became a global sensation, Laurie Santos applied her research on canine cognition directly to humans.