IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Go to Re-Approaching Stanford for weekly updates on Academic Year 2020-21.
Check out the Summer Quarter IntroSems with Space Available and add yourself to the class in Axess starting May 23rd!
Look for the catalog of 2021-22 IntroSems to post here later this summer!
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
A Way of Life: Historic Journeys to Sacred Places
In a world of touchscreens and instant knowledge, going on a journey for the good of the soul might seem weird. But pilgrimage—spiritual tourism—has witnessed a huge resurgence. Why is this? We’ll study the global pilgrimage through its long history, studying routes to some of the world's most sacred places to consider this important form of spiritual and personal expression. From all points to Rome or Mecca, Japan, Tibet, and Ethiopia, to Elvis Presley’s Graceland, California’s El Camino Real, and prehistoric Glastonbury to Stonehenge, these often spectacular routes inspire, test, exhaust, and reward travelers.
But who travels on these routes and how do they travel? What motivates these journeys and how did travelers access the spaces they wanted to see? What hardships are encountered and what communities are formed along the way? And what happens once pilgrims get to where they’re going? How do they leave their mark and what do they bring home with them; indeed, we’ll consider (appropriately enough in an age of global lockdown) what happens if we never leave home at all, but instead move through time and space imaginatively or through cyber-travel. Working with individuals’ accounts, with online maps and depictions of place, with literary texts on walking and on personal growth, we’ll emphasize these questions as we study some of the most well-trodden paths in global history.