IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Visit Stanford Student Affairs for the latest updates on Academic Year 2021-22.
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?) We spend our time together working to generate shared understanding as a “community of learners”. The seminar emphasises in-class discussion, critique of documentaries, collaborative in-class presentations, and online collaborative research. 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.