Autumn IntroSems status has been released! Check your status in the IntroSems' VCA. Autumn IntroSems with Space Available are open for self-enrollment. Check the Space Available page often--listings subject to change daily!
IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Visit Re-Approaching Stanford for the latest updates on Academic Year 2021-22.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
The Science of Diverse Communities
This seminar is an exploration. Most generally, its aim is to identify distinguishing features of good diverse communities and articulate them well enough to offer principles or guidelines for how to design and manage such communities—all with a particular focus on educational communities such as schools, universities, academic disciplines, etc., but with the hope that such principles might generalize to other kinds of organizations and the broader society. The readings range from those on the origins of human communities and social identities to those on intergroup trust building. They also aim to embed our discussions in the major "diversity" issues of the day; for example, what’s in the news about campus life. Thus the course has a practical purpose: to develop testable ideas for improving the comfort level, fairness and goodness-for-all of "identity" diverse communities—especially in educational settings.
The course also has a basic science purpose: to explore the psychological significance of community. Is there a psychological need for community? Is there something about a need for community that can’t be reduced to other needs—for example, for a gender, racial, or sexual-orientation identity? How strong is the need for community—against other needs? What kinds of human grouping can satisfy it? In meeting this need, can membership in one community substitute for membership in others? What do people need from communities in order to thrive in them? Do strong diverse communities dampen intergroup biases? Can strong community loyalty mitigate identity tensions within communities? And so on. Such questions, the hope is, will help us develop a more systematic understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in diverse human communities.