Molecules which speed up specific chemical processes but remain unchanged are called catalysts. They play key roles wherever chemistry takes place, whether in the cell, the environment, or the manufacturing plant. Some catalysts accelerate reactions by almost 20 orders of magnitude, and many are perfectly selective for a single substrate molecule. Catalysts make life possible, and a handful have changed the way we live. This course will examine the principles of catalysis in chemical and biological systems. The terrain will be varied; we will explore many families of catalysts, from enzymes to transition metals to the proton. Nonetheless, whether we consider decomposition of a small molecule in an acidic solution or the assembly of a polymeric macromolecule by a multicomponent enzyme, we'll find that many themes of catalysis are universal. Readings will be drawn from the primary literature as well as various texts, and we will look at catalysis in both chemical and broader contexts. Students will be evaluated on active participation in class and a semester-long literature-based project. Prerequisite: Organic Chemistry I.