Sophomore Seminars

Making Sense of Strategy

Please note: Due to Sophomore demand, a second section of STRAMGT110Q has been added for Winter Quarter! Sign up for your preferred section day (Tues or Wed) in the IntroSems' VCA.

Get the strategy right, and the chance for success is great. Nowhere is this more evident than in today's world of major challenges. Strategy is at the heart of problem solving and achieving objectives, yet few people can define strategy, much less understand how to conceptualize, design, and execute effective strategies that yield the best outcomes. This course will meet once a week to focus on interesting and engaging case studies, each of which illustrates a key ingredient of strategy. Some are well-known historical events, while others are less obvious, but all have a strategic lesson to share. The cases are quite diverse, from the planning of a high-risk rescue in the Colorado Rockies, to a product crisis in a Fortune 500 company, to a little-known failed military mission of WWII, to a complicated federal regulatory issue. The ability to think through challenging and varied scenarios is both instructive and mind-stretching. There will be some pre-reading on each case study. The course is designed to be highly interactive—all to enable students to unravel the mystery and power of strategic thinking. In class, students will often be broken into teams - a collaborative approach often central to problem-solving. This course can help students not only prepare for a career in a range of fields, but also as they meet the challenges of their current coursework. Problem-solving skills are central in every walk of life. This seminar can help students build a stronger foundation for sound decision making.

This course experiences high student demand. Frosh, Sophomores, and New Transfers are encouraged to also consider some of the other IntroSems being offered in this quarter when making their three selections for priority enrollment in the IntroSems' VCA.


Meet the Instructor(s)

Prof. David Demarest

David Demarest

David Demarest retired as vice president for public affairs at Stanford University in 2019. He has held senior positions in the fields of politics, government, business, and education. He served four years as an assistant to President George H.W. Bush, a member of the White House senior staff, including as White House communications director. This followed his role as communications director of the 1988 Bush Presidential Campaign and head of public affairs for the Presidential Transition. Later, he served as executive vice president at BankAmerica Corp. and then as executive vice president for global corporate relations and brand management at Visa International. Since 2008,here at Stanford, he has taught a popular GSB course titled Political Communications: How Leaders Become Leaders. In 2003 he founded AspenLine Reputation Strategies, a specialized reputation management and communications consulting firm. He continues to serve on the board of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Advisory Council. He is currently writing a book of 41 short stories reflecting his experiences in the White House. He enjoys backpacking, skiing, fishing, and creative writing.

Learn More About David Demarest