Nineteen Must-Take Courses This Winter

WINTER QUARTER. Frigid in ambient air temperature, but typically also in spirit. To warm you in the coming months—and to offer entertaining, educational respites between pluvial sprints across the quad—the Sphere has compiled an alphabetized list of the most scintillating classes at Stanford. In recognition of recent (frightening) events on the global political stage, we’ve especially tried to identify classes to help you make sense of the months ahead. Worried about imminent war with Iran? Try POLISCI 245R with Abbas Milani. More generally anxious about authoritarian politics both at home and abroad? We have a seminar for that, too. Keep reading below for our longest course list yet.

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A Left Defense of Universal Basic Income

IN A WORLD in which fiscal policy becomes more complex with each passing administration, an alarmingly simple proposal like universal basic income brings all parties into a state of shock. At its core, UBI seeks to give citizens a periodic, no-strings-attached cash grant to do whatever they want. Whether you are rich or poor, from San Francisco or from Bakersfield, every so often you receive a check in the mail for a fixed amount directly from the government. You could spend it all in a one-night extravaganza or save it to buy the car you always wanted—you could even burn the money in a bonfire if you like (though I would not recommend doing so). The fundamental principle behind UBI is for citizens to choose what they want to do with their money, whatever that choice may be.

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Please, No More Plans

ON JUNE 28, Beto O’Rourke announced a plan for a War Tax—a system by which, upon the formal declaration of war by Congress, a progressive tax on families without service members or veterans would be levied to pay for the latter’s care. It was a bad idea and roundly mocked by the Democratic commentariat. The New Republic called it both “empirically wrong” and “deeply cynical.” Newsweek called it “not just dumb, but un-American.”

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Freedom, the Market, and Curricular Reform: An Interview

THE SPHERE’S editor-in-chief sat down with Profs. Lanier Anderson, Sarah Church, Dan Edelstein, and Tom Kenny to discuss their groundbreaking proposals for curricular reform. From shrinking the major to expanding the core, they discuss the place of freedom, the market, and Montaigne in their revival of liberal education. For a summary of the reforms, we recommend taking a look at this interview in Stanford News. If you want to understand the ideas behind the reforms—a universal capstone requirement, a humanistic core for freshmen, a radical rehaul of the major—keep reading.

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How Stanford Hides Conflicts of Interest

THERANOS’ DOWNFALL was perhaps the first time that Stanford’s ties with Silicon Valley received some much-needed criticism—the company’s disgraced founder, its first board member, many of its employees, and a good deal of its prestige had all come from Stanford. The whole affair became a testament to the scale and importance of our community’s involvement with the corporate world, and it inspired the Sphere to take a closer look at Stanford’s ties to the biotech industry. But we didn’t just discover the scale of these ties: we found ourselves before an alarming lack of accountability when it comes to keeping research and financial interests separate.

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