IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Go to Re-Approaching Stanford for weekly updates on Academic Year 2020-21.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Animal Behavior: Sex, Death, and Sometimes Food!
Why do animals behave the way they do? What does behavior tell us about their inner lives, and about ourselves? Background reading and class lectures will develop basic principles and flesh them out with unforgettable examples. (What, for instance, do lipstick and cuckoos and fireflies have in common? Why wouldn't anyone want to be a penguin? What do mice say to each other in their pee-mail?) The seminar will have an emphasis on in-class discussion and critique of video examples, documentaries, and research papers, including the chance to video-conference with the authors of assigned reading and ask those burning questions you always have after reading a really exciting paper. Traditional and modern topics will include: history and approaches to animal behavior; the development of behavior, from genetics to learning; the mechanisms of behavior, from neurons to motivation; the function of behavior, from how behavior has been shaped by evolution to why animals appear to behave altruistically; the phylogeny of behavior, emphasizing how related behaviors change from species to species to fit each animal's niche; and modern applications of behavior, from abnormal behavior to conservation to animal welfare and animal consciousness.
Offered in both Autumn and Spring.