2017 Courses

High School Summer College more than 145 courses allow students to explore, collaborate, and challenge themselves while gaining confidence and meeting new peers.

Students in our programs should always refer to this list; these are the only courses available to the students we admit for the Summer Quarter. Current Stanford students have additional options available for summer enrollment. An academic advisor will verify students enrollments. 

  • The Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics

    The basic question of ethics is 'How should I live?' In this course we'll study conceptions of the good human life proposed by philosophers from Ancient Greece to the present day, including Aristotle, Epicurus, the Stoics, J.S. Mill and Simone de Beauvoir. Among the questions we'll be asking are, 'Is moral virtue necessary for personal happiness?' 'Is the good life simply the most pleasant life?' 'What does it mean to live authentically?' 'Can we know how happy we are?' Students will learn how to engage with historical and contemporary ethical texts, and will practice the distinctive analytical skills characteristic of philosophical writing.

    Course Code
    PHIL 39S
    Instructor(s)
    Duffy, H.
    Units
    3
  • Justice and Climate Change

    Global climate change is among the greatest global political challenges of our time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2014 that the warming of Earth's climate system is a certainty and that it is highly likely that human influence is the dominant cause of climate change. Without action to combat climate change, the effects will worsen and could become catastrophic within a century. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the world. Communities in low lying deltas and islands have been relocated or are facing relocation due to rising sea levels. Increased droughts, storm surges, and floods threaten the lives, health and basic needs of people around the world: poor communities are particularly vulnerable. Human-caused climate change raises many questions of justice: First, is it morally wrong to emit greenhouse gases, the major cause of climate change? Is it unfair for wealthy high emitters to continue emitting given the risks of climate change to other people? What priority should be given to the wellbeing of future generations given the costs of reducing GHGs to the current generations? Finally, despite a scientific consensus about climate change's human origins, there is deep political disagreement about the facts about climate change and its alleged human-origins, especially in the United States. How should the government go about making decisions in light of these disagreements; what role should scientific expertise play in democratic deliberations? This course considers justice and climate change across these four dimensions: corrective justice, distributive justice, intergenerational justice, and procedural justice. Our discussions, reading, and writings will work back and forth between the issue of climate change and broader questions within political philosophy. The course is designed to help students develop and practice the skills needed to think and read critically, to communicate effectively across differences through speaking and writing, and to construct arguments that can withstand scrutiny. Students of any discipline are welcome and encouraged to attend. No philosophical background required or presupposed.

    Course Code
    PHIL 42S
    Instructor(s)
    Francis, B.
    Units
    3
  • Modern Political Philosophy: Origins of the U.S. Constitution

    In this course, we consider the political philosophy that culminated in the founding of the U.S. Constitution. We will consider, among other questions:n- What assumptions about human nature were made by thinkers in this tradition?n- What are rights and where do they come from?n- Why do we form government and what is the common good preserved or promoted by government?n- What is required to preserve our political institutions?n- What is the role of law in civil society?n- To what extent does the political success of the U.S. require virtue?nIn this discussion based seminar, we will read Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Lincoln, and the American Founders.

    Course Code
    PHIL 46S
    Instructor(s)
    Espeland, A.
    Units
    3
  • Introduction to Modern Philosophy: Skepticism and Scientific Rationalism

    Focusing on Descartes, Newton, and Leibniz, the course investigates foundational debates in metaphysics and epistemology of modern philosophy. We closely scrutinize Descartes¿ Meditations, which involves radical skepticism of the external world and subsequent proofs that I exist, that God exists, that material bodies exist, and that I am really distinct from my body. Next, we study Newton¿s criticisms of Descartes¿ physical theories of motion and space. We attempt a definition of Newton¿s important concept of `absolute space¿ and observe its role in his proof of universal gravity. Finally, we turn to Leibniz to raise significant philosophical issues with Newtonian spacetime and Cartesian physics. Though our focus is the seventeenth century, we will end with connections to contemporary debates in philosophy of physics.

    Course Code
    PHIL 47S
    Instructor(s)
    Parker, A.
    Units
    3
  • Stars and Planets in a Habitable Universe

    Is the Earth unique in our galaxy? Students learn how stars and our galaxy have evolved and how this produces planets and the conditions suitable for life. Discussion of the motion of the night sky and how telescopes collect and analyze light. The life-cycle of stars from birth to death, and the end products of that life cycle -- from dense stellar corpses to supernova explosions. Course covers recent discoveries of extrasolar planets -- those orbiting stars beyond our sun -- and the ultimate quest for other Earths. Intended to be accessible to non-science majors, material is explored quantitatively with problem sets using basic algebra and numerical estimates. Sky observing exercise and observatory field trips supplement the classroom work.

    Course Code
    PHYSICS 15
    Instructor(s)
    Liu, W.
    Units
    3
  • The Origin and Development of the Cosmos

    How did the present Universe come to be? The last few decades have seen remarkable progress in understanding this age-old question. Course will cover the history of the Universe from its earliest moments to the present day, and the physical laws that govern its evolution. The early Universe including inflation and the creation of matter and the elements. Recent discoveries in our understanding of the makeup of the cosmos, including dark matter and dark energy. Evolution of galaxies, clusters, and quasars, and the Universe as a whole. Implications of dark matter and dark energy for the future evolution of the cosmos. Intended to be accessible to non-science majors, material is explored quantitatively with problem sets using basic algebra and numerical estimates.

    Course Code
    PHYSICS 16
  • Mechanics, Fluids, and Heat with Laboratory

    How are the motions of objects and the behavior of fluids and gases determined by the laws of physics? Students learn to describe the motion of objects (kinematics) and understand why objects move as they do (dynamics). Emphasis on how Newton's three laws of motion are applied to solids, liquids, and gases to describe phenomena as diverse as spinning gymnasts, blood flow, and sound waves. Understanding many-particle systems requires connecting macroscopic properties (e.g., temperature and pressure) to microscopic dynamics (collisions of particles). Laws of thermodynamics provide understanding of real-world phenomena such as energy conversion and performance limits of heat engines. Everyday examples are analyzed using tools of algebra and trigonometry. Problem-solving skills are developed, including verifying that derived results satisfy criteria for correctness, such as dimensional consistency and expected behavior in limiting cases. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and interactive group problem solving in discussion sections. Labs are an integrated part of the summer course. Prerequisite: high school algebra and trigonometry; calculus not required.

    Course Code
    PHYSICS 21S
  • Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics with Laboratory

    How are electric and magnetic fields generated by static and moving charges, and what are their applications? How is light related to electromagnetic waves? Students learn to represent and analyze electric and magnetic fields to understand electric circuits, motors, and generators. The wave nature of light is used to explain interference, diffraction, and polarization phenomena. Geometric optics is employed to understand how lenses and mirrors form images. These descriptions are combined to understand the workings and limitations of optical systems such as the eye, corrective vision, cameras, telescopes, and microscopes. Discussions based on the language of algebra and trigonometry. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and interactive group problem solving in discussion sections. Labs are an integrated part of the summer courses. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 21 or PHYSICS 21S.

    Course Code
    PHYSICS 23S
    Instructor(s)
    Wiser, T.
    Units
    5
  • Observational Astronomy Laboratory

    Introduction to observational astronomy emphasizing the use of optical telescopes. Observations of stars, nebulae, and galaxies in laboratory sessions with telescopes at the Stanford Student Observatory. Meets at the observatory one evening per week from dusk until well after dark, in addition to day-time lectures each week. No previous physics required. Limited enrollment.

    Course Code
    PHYSICS 50
    Instructor(s)
    Bailey, V.
    Units
    3
  • Introduction to International Relations (INTNLREL 101Z)

    Approaches to the study of conflict and cooperation in world affairs. Applications to war, terrorism, trade policy, the environment, and world poverty. Debates about the ethics of war and the global distribution of wealth.

    Course Code
    POLISCI 101Z
    Instructor(s)
    Tomz, M.
    Units
    4
  • Political Power in American Cities

    The major actors, institutions, processes, and policies of sub-state government in the U.S., emphasizing city general-purpose governments through a comparative examination of historical and contemporary politics. Issues related to federalism, representation, voting, race, poverty, housing, and finances.

    Course Code
    POLISCI 121Z
    Instructor(s)
    Nall, C.
    Units
    4
  • Ethics and Politics in Public Service

    Ethical and political questions in public service work, including volunteering, service learning, humanitarian assistance, and public service professions such as medicine and teaching. Motives and outcomes in service work. Connections between service work and justice. Is mandatory service an oxymoron? History of public service in the U.S. Issues in crosscultural service work. Integration with the Haas Center for Public Service to connect service activities and public service aspirations with academic experiences at Stanford.nnSeats in POLISCI 133Z are restricted to students who intend to complete the Service Learning Intensive as a part of High School Summer College or Stanford Summer Session. To register for POLISCI 133Z, you must have indicated your intent to complete the Service Learning intensive on your application Acceptance Checklist (High School Summer College) or on the Intensive Studies Registration Form (Stanford Summer Session). You will be notified via email if you have a spot in the class with directions on how to enroll in the course. While you are waiting for a spot, we encourage you to register for another course.nnIf have further questions about this course and how to sign-up for the course, please email the following:nHigh School Summer College students: summercollege@stanford.edunStanford Summer Session students: summersession@stanford.edu

    Course Code
    POLISCI 133Z
    Instructor(s)
    Coyne, B.
    Units
    4
  • Comparative Corruption (SOC 113)

    Causes, effects, and solutions to various forms of corruption in business and politics in both developing regions (e.g. Asia, E. Europe) and developed ones (the US and the EU).

    Course Code
    POLISCI 143S
    Instructor(s)
    Young, P.
    Units
    3
  • Thinking Strategically

    This course provides an introduction to strategic reasoning. We discuss ideas such as the commitment problem, credibility in signaling, cheap talk, moral hazard and adverse selection. Concepts are developed through games played in class, and applied to politics, business and everyday life.

    Course Code
    POLISCI 153Z
    Instructor(s)
    Acharya, A.
    Units
    4
  • Genes, Memes and Behavior

    Examines how natural selection operates to shape successful genes in the gene pool, how cultural selection operates to shape successful "memes" in the pool of cultural ideas, and how selection by consequences operates to shape successful behaviors in our repertoires. Topics include cases in which selection produces undesirable consequences (e.g. genetic mutations, cultural problems, and aberrant behaviors in children). Emphasis on understanding the role of modern natural science in complex behaviors and why study of human life from an interdisciplinary perspective is important.

    Course Code
    PSYC 54N
    Instructor(s)
    Hall, S.
    Units
    3
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods: Precalculus (STATS 60, STATS 160)

    Techniques for organizing data, computing, and interpreting measures of central tendency, variability, and association. Estimation, confidence intervals, tests of hypotheses, t-tests, correlation, and regression. Possible topics: analysis of variance and chi-square tests, computer statistical packages.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 10
    Instructor(s)
    DiCiccio, C.
    Units
    5
  • Introduction to Neuroscience

    Introduction to structure and function of the nervous system. The course first surveys neuroscience research methods, physiology, and gross anatomy. We then study the brain systems which produce basic functions such as perception and motion, as well as complex processes like sleep, memory, and emotion. Finally, we examine these principles in cases of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 102S
    Instructor(s)
    Leong, J., Miller, C.
    Units
    4
  • General Psychology

    In what ways does the scientific study of psychology increase our understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we observe and experience in everyday life? What are the main areas of psychology and the different questions they seek to answer? This course will give you an introduction to the field of psychology and its many different areas. You will learn about the central methods, findings, and unanswered questions of these areas, as well as how to interpret and critically evaluate research findings.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 105S
    Instructor(s)
    Howe, L., Leibowitz, K., Turnwald, B.
    Units
    3
  • Introduction to Social Psychology

    This course aims to blend a comprehensive overview of social psychology with in-depth lectures exploring the history of the field, reviewing major findings and highlighting areas of current research. The course will focus on classic studies that have profoundly changed our understanding of human nature and social interaction, and, in turn, have triggered significant paradigm shifts within the field. Some of the topics covered in this class will include: individuals and groups, conformity and obedience, attraction, intergroup relations, and judgment and decision-making. The course, overall, will attempt to foster interest in social psychology as well as scientific curiosity in a fun, supportive and intellectually stimulating environment.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 108S
    Instructor(s)
    Griffiths, C., Lempert, S., Muragishi, G.
    Units
    3
  • Abnormal Psychology

    This course will provide an introduction to abnormal psychology. It will be targeted towards students who have had little or no exposure to coursework on mental disorders. The course will have three core aims: 1) Explore the nature of mental disorders, including the phenomenology, signs/symptoms, and causal factors underlying various forms of mental illness, 2) Explore conventional and novel treatments for various mental disorders, 3) Develop critical thinking skills in the theory and empirical research into mental disorders. The course will explore a wide range of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 111S
    Instructor(s)
    Miller, C.
    Units
    3
  • Developmental Psychology

    This class will introduce students to the basic principles of developmental psychology. As well as providing a more classic general overview, we will also look towards current methods and findings. Students will gain an appreciation of how developmental psychology as a science can be applied to their general understanding of children and the complicated process of growing into adults.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 113S
    Units
    3
  • Personality Psychology

    This course will focus on current empirical and theoretical approaches to personality. Lectures will be organized around the following questions central to personality research: How and why do people differ? How do we measure individual differences? Does personality change over time? How does personality interact with sociocultural factors to influence behavior? What makes people happy? What are the physical, mental, and social consequences of personalities?

    Course Code
    PSYCH 115S
    Instructor(s)
    Bencharit, Y., Raposo, S.
    Units
    3
  • Psychology of Women

    Women comprise half of the human population, yet throughout much of history, the study of human thought and behavior has been largely male focused. In fact, some of the earliest psychological studies of women were conducted primarily to argue for the evolutionary supremacy of men. During the past fifty years, the field of psychology has made significant strides towards considering women and men equally worthy subjects of inquiry. In this course, we will discuss this growing body of research related to gender and the female experience. We will focus on six main themes: social and biological approaches to studying gender, evidence for gender similarities and differences, gender stereotypes and sexism, gender and language use, women in the workplace, and female sexuality. We will explore these themes through lectures, in class demonstrations, analysis of empirical work, and student led discussion.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 139S
    Instructor(s)
    Chestnut, E.
    Units
    3
  • Introduction to the Psychology of Emotion

    Our emotions influence how we perceive the world, inform how we make critical life decisions, and connect us with other people. Affective science, the scientific study of emotion, investigates how emotions shape our lives. In this course, we explore how emotions arise as feelings we experience, behaviors we commit, and physiological reactions to our environments. Across these levels of analysis, we will consider how emotions interact with our personalities, past experiences, future goals, stages of development, and socio-cultural surroundings. We will learn how affective science has clarified the nature of emotion, how emotions evolved across diverse animal species, and how emotions impact our health and relationships with others. You will leave this class with an improved, scientifically-informed understanding of your own and others emotions, and strategies for how to effectively use and manage your feelings in daily life.

    Course Code
    PSYCH 147S
    Instructor(s)
    Williams, W.
    Units
    3
  • Writing Well: An Introduction to College Writing

    Offered only to participants in the Summer College for High School Students. Develops critical reading, writing, and research skills applicable to any area of study. Emphases include close reading, analysis of varied texts, development of strong theses, revision strategies, and introduction to research-based argument. Classes are small, encouraging extensive interaction between students and instructors. Discussions of readings, peer work, and individual conferences with instructors. Each section has a thematic emphasis developed by the instructor; students choose sections based on their individual interests. Does not meet the Stanford first-year writing requirement.

    Course Code
    PWR 1D
    Instructor(s)
    Heredia, A.
    Units
    3
  • Who Am I? The Question of the Self in Art, Literature, Religion, and Philosophy

    In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary declared selfie to be the word of the year, as researchers revealed that usage of the term had increased 17,000% since the previous year. By 2014, the New York Times, following on the heels of a study conducted by the Pew Research Foundation dubbed millennials the selfie generation. And today, identity politics have moved to the forefront of public discussion in unprecedented ways. It seems that everyone is talking about the self, but what or, better yet, who is this mysterious entity we speak for each time we use the first person pronoun?nnThis seminar engages the question of the self through the exploration of art, literature, religion, philosophy, and pop culture. Through close, guided readings and analysis of classic, contemporary, and popular materials, we will attempt to understand and complicate the notion of the self and inquire into the personal, social, and political relationships that define its contours and boundaries.nnCourse content will be drawn from a diverse but complementary range of works including those by: Plato, Plotinus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, James Baldwin, William Blake, Guy Debord, Christopher Noland, and Friedrich Nietzsche. We will also interrogate what films such Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, artists such as Ana Mendieta and Barbara Kruger, and countercultural musical movements such as punk rock and black metal have to add to our inquiry. Short lectures will contextualize the topics treated; but the focus will be on fostering robust and substantive discussion while developing the philosophical skills needed to think through and debate the notion of the self and its attendant issues in a reflective and nuanced manner.nnBy drawing from different eras and cultural contexts, we will gain a new appreciation for the historical background of the existential questions that concern us today, while confronting the radical diversity of possible responses. However, since the question of the self must necessarily be raised in the first person, you will be the most important subject of this course. In this spirit, the seminar¿s ultimate aim is to engage with multimedia materials that help you develop, articulate, and ultimately live out your own personal response to a very pressing question: Who am I?nnAll are welcome. No previous experience with philosophy, literature, art, or religious studies will be assumed.

    Course Code
    RELIGST 38S
    Instructor(s)
    Gentzke, J.
    Units
    3
  • The Other Side: Ethnography and Travel Writing through Jewish, Christian and Muslim Eyes (JEWISHST 39S)

    In an age of reality television and social media, we are bombarded with snapshots of the exotic, monstrous, and bizarre. Yet despite their quantity, these images pale in comparison to the qualities of terror, wonder and curiosity that ancient travelers evoked in their encounters with foreign lands and peoples. Early ethnographers, too, painstakingly explored the beliefs and practices of unfamiliar peoples sometimes very close to home. This course surveys their most vivid writings, from ancient Greece to the colonization of the New World, focusing on the relation between fascination with the other and the author's own religious imagination. In particular, it introduces the contributions of Jewish travelers and ethnographers to this history, which has often been written from the standpoint of imperial, ecclesiastical or colonial power. It stresses literary continuities across three general periods (ancient, medieval, and colonial), showing how remarkably consistent patterns of identification spring from diverse encounters.

    Course Code
    RELIGST 39S
    Instructor(s)
    Redfield, J.
    Units
    3
  • Comparative Corruption (POLISCI 143S)

    Causes, effects, and solutions to various forms of corruption in business and politics in both developing regions (e.g. Asia, E. Europe) and developed ones (the US and the EU).

    Course Code
    SOC 113
    Instructor(s)
    Young, P.
    Units
    3
  • The Power of Social Networks in Everyday Life

    Why do some people have better ideas than others? Why are some more likely to be bullied in school, get a job, or catch a disease? Why do some innovations, apps, rumors, or revolutions spread like a wildfire, while others never get off the ground? Why are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify so good at recommending people, news, pictures, or songs we might know or like? What do a power outage, the collapse of the Roman Empire, a human stroke, and the Financial Crisis of 2008 have in common? What explains the success of Silicon Valley? And why are there only six (or less) people between us and any other human on this planet? While these questions may seem totally unrelated to each other on first glance, they can all be explored with the help of a single, yet powerful framework: social network analysis. In this class, you will learn to see the world as a web of relations: not only are people, ideas/concepts and things all increasingly connected to each other; the pattern of these relations can tell us a great deal about many phenomena in our social world that defy traditional explanations. At the end of this class, you will not only see networks everywhere; you will have taken a big step toward connecting some of the dots in (y)our world: this is the power of thinking in relations.

    Course Code
    SOC 119D
    Instructor(s)
    Hahn, M.
    Units
    3

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