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
How Beliefs Create Reality
This seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring how subjective aspects of the mind can fundamentally change objective reality. Over the course of the quarter, you will be challenged to think critically about research from psychology, sociology, and medicine, which suggests that what we think, believe, and expect plays a significant role in determining our physical health, performance, and well-being. We will explore research on how mindsets about nutrition, exercise, and stress can alter the body's response to those phenomena. We will also uncover how social interactions with friends, family, colleagues, and the media influence the perceived quality and impact of art, music, and fashion. And you will learn about the neurological and physiological underpinnings of the placebo effect, a powerful demonstration of expectation that produces real, healing changes in the body. Finally, you'll have the opportunity to consider real world applications in disciplines including policy, business, medicine, academics, athletics, and public health, and the ethical implications of those applications. Throughout the seminar what's crucial is that you participate actively and keep an open mind. The final weeks of class will be dedicated to studies or interventions designed by you and aimed to further explore the course material.