Catalog Navigation
Contacts
Office: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail Code: 94305-3068
Web Site: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/about/contact-us/vpue-program-offices/stanford-introductory-studies

Stanford Introductory Studies

Stanford Introductory Studies (SIS) is a unit in the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education that manages required and elective academic programs for first- and second-year students:

  • Thinking Matters
  • Introductory Seminars
  • Education as Self-Fashioning
  • Sophomore College
  • Arts Intensive

More than 300 tenure-track faculty from all seven schools of the University teach in one or more of these SIS programs, sharing their enthusiasm for learning while encouraging students to discover their intellectual interests. SIS classes promote active learning in an inclusive and supportive classroom environment where individual students receive individual attention and support for their exploration of the full range of expansive and diverse academic opportunities offered at Stanford.  

SIS Programs

The Thinking Matters program oversees a curriculum of team-taught required courses and provides entering students with a gateway to liberal education and a guided transition to the intellectual life of the University.

The Introductory Seminars program connects frosh and sophomores with the research faculty of the University through more than 230 small, departmentally based classes drawn from the full range of scholarship and discovery at Stanford.

Education as Self-Fashioning classes focus on the meaning and purpose of a liberal education in seminars that integrate writing instruction with discussion.  

The Sophomore College and Arts Intensive programs immerse students in an academically focused, living/learning residential community during the month of September.  

Thinking Matters

Faculty Director: Russell A. Berman, Comparative Literature and German Studies

Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Program Director, Stanford Introductory Studies for Thinking Matters: Ellen Woods

Associate Director: Parna Sengupta

Affiliated Faculty: Julie Baker (Genetics), Chris Bobonich (Philosophy), Gordon Chang (History), Cari Costanzo (Anthropology), Larry Diamond (FSI and Hoover), Paul Edwards (FSI), Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English), James Fishkin (Communications), Marisa Galvez (French and Italian), Heather Hadlock (Music), Robert Harrison (French and Italian), Stephen Hinton (Music), Allyson Hobbs (History), Susan Holmes (Statistics), Adam Johnson (English), Ari Kelman (School of Education), Joseph Lipsick (School of Medicine), Stephen Luby (Medicine), David Magnus (School of Medicine), Peter Michelson (Physics), Ian Morris (Classics), lauren O'Connell (Biology), Josiah Ober (Political Science), Thomas Ryckman (Philosophy), Gabriella Safran (Slavic), Audrey Shafer (Anestheology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine), Abraham Verghese (School of Medicine), Blakey Vermeule (English), Ban Wang (East Asian Languages and Cultures), Ge Wang (Music and Computer Science) Laura Wittman (Italian and French Studies)

Lecturers: Marie Burks, Justin Clardy, Risa Cromer, Tara Dosumu Diener, Huw Duffy, Kyle Fruh, Nicole Gounalis, Sean Hallowell, Kristyn Hara, Sarah Hillenbrand, Melissa Ko, Katie Lennard, Minh Ly, Nicole Martin, Tiffany Naiman, Lexi Neame, Joey Nelson, Kirsten Paige, Emily Rials, Lupita Ruiz-Jones, Saumya Sankaran, Tim Sorg, Elise Stickles, Chenshu Zhou.

Offices: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail code: 94305-3068
Phone: (650) 723-0944
Email: thinkingmatters@stanford.edu
Web Site: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/programs/thinking-matters

Thinking Matters courses are listed under the subject code THINK on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

Thinking Matters offers courses that satisfy the one quarter first-year requirement. Taught by faculty from a wide range of disciplines and fields, the Thinking Matters (THINK) requirement helps students develop the ability to ask rigorous and genuine questions that can lead to scientific experimentation or literary interpretation or social policy analysis. Through the study of these questions and problems, students develop critical skills in interpretation, reasoning, and analysis as well as enhance capacities for writing and discussion. The THINK requirement may be satisfied in one of three ways:

  1. Thinking Matters courses:
    • a one quarter, 4-unit course taught by Academic Council faculty.
  2. Education as Self-Fashioning courses: ESF
    • a one quarter (Autumn), 7-unit course that satisfies both the Thinking Matters Requirement and the first-year Writing Requirement. For information on the program, faculty, and instructors, see the "ESF" section of this bulletin.
  3. Integrated Learning Environments: ITALIC and SLE
    • a three quarter, residence-based learning experience, which satisfies the THINK requirement, two of the University Writing and Rhetoric requirements, and selected General Education Requirements. For information regarding the three residence-based programs, faculty, and instructors, see the "ILE" section of this bulletin.

Thinking Matters Courses Offered in 2018-19

Introductory Seminars

Faculty Director: Russell Berman, Comparative Literature and German Studies

Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Program Director, Stanford Introductory Studies for Introductory Seminars: Ellen Woods

Faculty: More than 200 faculty from the Schools of Humanities & Sciences; Engineering; Law; Medicine; Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; and the Graduate Schools of Business and Education

Offices: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail Code: 94305-3068
Phone: (650) 724-2405
Email:
introsems@stanford.edu
Web Site: http://introsems.stanford.edu

The Introductory Seminars program offers more than 200 small classes for first- and second-year students taught by faculty from across the seven Schools of the University. Professors teach subjects drawn from their research and scholarship and engage students in deep investigation of important questions and issues. Seminars require little or no formal background, and welcome first-year students and sophomores to Stanford’s intellectual community.

Many seminars satisfy the Ways Breadth Requirements, and several meet the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (Writing 2). There is no limit on the total number of seminars a student may take. Most seminars are filled through an online selection and pre-enrollment process. Seminars that have space available are open for self-enrollment in Axess, with preference to first- and second-year students. For information about online sign-up and enrollment, see the Introductory Seminars web site.

Sign-up deadlines for each quarter are at 11:59 p.m. on:

  • Autumn Quarter: August 29, 2018
  • Winter Quarter: October 14, 2018
  • Spring Quarter: January 27, 2019

Introductory Seminars Courses Offered in 2018-19

Education as Self-Fashioning

Director: Dan Edelstein (French and Italian)

Faculty: Dan Edelstein (French and Italian), Paula Findlen (History), Rush Rehm (Classics), Kathryn Starkey (German Studies), Robert Harrison (French and Italian), Andrea Nightingale (Classics), Ken Taylor (Philosophy)

Writing Instructor: Brandon Bark, Nick Gardner, Vanessa Glauser, Biliana Kassabova,Valerie Kinsey, Erik Johnson, Demetrius Loufas, Sarah Pittock, Boris Shoshitaishvili, Ruth Starkman. 

Offices: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail Code: 94305-3068
Phone: (650) 723-0944
Email: thinkingmatters@stanford.edu
Web Site: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/programs/education-self-fashioning-esf

Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF) is a unique opportunity offered only in the autumn quarter, since its aim is to introduce entering students to a liberal education.  The six courses provide you with an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member in a seminar-style setting while simultaneously completing your first-year writing requirement.  In ESF, we consider writings about education by intellectuals working in various fields, with the aim of articulating different ways that education can be used to structure one’s thinking, one’s self, and ultimately one’s life as a whole. You will grapple with this issue in dialogue with fellow students and faculty from across a wide range of disciplines — from the humanities and social sciences through the natural sciences and mathematics. 

The ESF program satisfies both the Thinking Matters and the PWR1 requirement. ESF is a set of linked seminars related to the general theme expressed in the course title. Six seminars, each with a different focus, meet separately as discussion classes led by the faculty; all ESF students also come together for a plenum session or large lecture each week.  Each seminar coordinates writing instruction with the course theme in specially designated writing sections.

The three components of ESF are described below. ESF counts as a 7-unit course.

  1. A seminar with a faculty member that meets once per week for at least 75 minutes.
  2. A section with a writing instructor that meets for sessions of 110 minutes twice per week.
  3. A lecture series that will meet once-a-week featuring prominent intellectuals. These lectures are required for students enrolled in ESF.

ESF Courses Offered in Autumn 2018-19

Sophomore College

Offices: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail code: 94305-3068
Phone: (650) 724-4667
Email: sophcollege@stanford.edu
Web Site: http://soco.stanford.edu

Sophomore College (SoCo) offers rising sophomores who share a passion for an area of study an opportunity to meet daily in seminar-size classes with Stanford faculty for lecture and discussion; students may also work in labs, participate in community-based learning, go on field trips, and engage in a range of other activities that facilitate in-depth mentoring relationships. Held before the start of students’ sophomore year, this residential program encourages academic and social connections and transforms classes into intellectual communities, helping participants establish rich relationships with peers and faculty that extend beyond graduation. Seminars are for 2 units; the Sophomore College program fee covers tuition, room, board, books, and class-required travel arranged by the program. Financial assistance is available.  The online catalog and additional information about SoCo is available at the Sophomore College web site. 

Arts Intensive

Offices: Sweet Hall, Second Floor
Mail code: 94305-3068
Phone: (650) 724-4667
Email: artsintensive@stanford.edu
Web Site: http://artsintensive.stanford.edu

The Arts Intensive (AI) Program offers rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to study intensively with Stanford arts faculty and small groups of other Stanford students. The Arts Intensive program takes place over three weeks in September before the start of Autumn Quarter.

Arts Intensive courses engage students in the theory and practice of a particular artistic discipline. Courses often include field trips, workshops, film screenings, studio sessions, or other arts events in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends. Courses are taught by Stanford arts faculty and often include contributions from professional visiting artists. Arts Intensive students live together in a Stanford residence during the program, making for a rich immersion into a creative community. This unique opportunity allows students to focus on their art practice without the constraints of other coursework. Enrollment is by application and takes place in Spring Quarter for the upcoming September program.  Each Arts Intensive course enrolls 10 to 20 students and offers 2 units of academic credit.  For more information or to apply, see the Arts Intensive web site.

Faculty Director: Russell Berman, Comparative Literature and German Studies

Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Program Director, Stanford Introductory Studies: Ellen Woods