14 Must-Take Courses This Spring: Remote Edition

IN THIS unprecedented quarter filled with uncertainty, the Sphere is back to help you get the best experience out of Zoom sessions. Whether you intend to discover paths toward democratic socialism, sharpen your theorizing about gender, or master the art of Mask, we have you covered. Enjoy our picks for this spring, listed in no particular order.

HISTORY 200D: Doing the History of Science and Technology
Even in the heart of Silicon Valley, people are not very concerned with the history of tech—and that’s part of the reason we don’t criticize it well enough. But this class presents a rare opportunity to dive deep into the complex origins of our optimistic milieu. Tom Mullaney, one of the world’s foremost historians of technology, and Jessica Riskin, well-known for her Scientific Revolution seminars, have teamed up to bring you a cutting-edge history class about the cutting edge of science and tech. Don’t miss it.

Units: 5
Time: Th 1:30-4:20
WAYS: AII, SI
Reading: Heavy

HISTORY 279: Latin American Development: Economy and Society, 1800-2014
Why is Latin America underdeveloped? How are growth and economic inequality related? These are some of the questions that this course asks. From Bolívar to Bolsonaro, this course will look at the continent through thinkers from Che Guevara to Washington’s neoliberal economists. Everyone should be concerned about the making of the world’s most unequal region, and with the legacies of those who tried to change it through reform and revolution. Zephyr Frank—among the History department’s sharpest thinkers—is just the right person to guide you along that journey.

Units: 3-5
Time: MW 1:30-2:50
WAYS: None
Reading: Medium

POLISCI 131L: Modern Political Thought: Machiavelli to Marx and Mill
Right now, we are facing a crisis that’s testing our political institutions as few events ever have. But thankfully, this is not the first time something like this has happened. Be it Machiavelli during the struggle of European powers in Italy, Hobbes during the English Civil War, or Marx during the Paris Commune of 1871, political thinkers have drawn from their experiences to theorize about political challenges—many of which are being faced by our present-day politicians. We cannot promise you will fix the world order after taking this course, but the greatest thinkers of their times will certainly help you get closer.

Units: 3-5
Time: TTh 10:30- 11:50
WAYS: AII, ER
Reading: Medium

PHIL 178M: Introduction to Environmental Ethics
We must choose between eco-socialism and eco-barbarism. To bring about a better world, we require a clear-sighted ethics to brace us against the temptation to give into fear and selfish politics. To navigate a politics conditioned by the environment, our ethics must also be conditioned by the environment. We must ask ourselves what our politics owes non-human animals, the land, the air. If we ignore these questions, we will fall back into the anthropocentric worldview that got us here. It’s clear that courage bolsters one’s ethics, but it is also true that ethics bolster one’s courage. The future will make demands of our courage; and we best start sharpening our morals now—in this course.

Units: 4-5
Time: TTh 3-4:20
WAYS: ER
Reading: Heavy

INTLPOL 217: The Future of Global Cooperation
This graduate-level seminar taught by Julia Spiegel—former senior advisor to Samantha Power at the UN—is a practically useful preview of what it’s like to work on issues that demand global cooperation. After a thorough dive into the architecture of modern global institutions, it explores a series of case studies in global cooperation: the Syrian Civil War, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. What sets this class apart from other IR courses is Spiegel’s refreshing teaching: she moves at a stunningly fast pace during discussion and expects the best out of her students. The course culminates in a simulation, during which students write and present a substantial policy memo on a pressing contemporary issue facing the UN or US government. The questions Spiegel asks (and expects students in the class to ask) are realistic, relentlessly critical, and disarming: an indispensable look into a career in global cooperation. Undergraduates are welcome, but be prepared to be challenged and graded without Stanford’s typical inflation! 

Units: 3-4
Time: W 9:30-11:20
WAYS: None
Reading: Medium

POLISCI 110G: Governing the Global Economy
Knowledge of economics is fundamental to living and working in the 21st century. However, it is difficult to come by an instructive, accessible economics course for non-majors. Professor Shreve’s course fills this gap. With an attention to both the politics and the mechanical, nitty-gritty details of economic interactions, Shreve’s ambitious course is meant to not only be instructive but hands-on. It covers case studies like Chinese foreign direct investment, the political economy of immigration, and international environmental cooperation. If you can get off the waitlist, consider yourself lucky.

Units: 5
Time: TTh 10:30-11:50
WAYS: SI
Reading: Medium to Heavy

HISTORY 299S: The History, Theory, and Practice of Democratic Socialism
Considering the severe economic ramifications that COVID-19 will have on much of the world’s population, Mark Mancall’s yearly course on Democratic Socialism is as timely as ever. In a rare course motivated by genuine intellectual curiosity and political passion; students are asked only to live up to these standards. Free of nearly any busywork, the course centers on readings that span philosophy, political theory, and history. It revolves around discussions with the commanding, challenging, and dryly humorous Mancall, a man who describes the topic of the course in this manner: “The topic occupies most of my heart and what little is left of my brain at this point in time.” If you really want to think about the theory and practice of democratic socialism, this is the course. Students are free to audit by signing up for the mailing list.

Units: 1-5
Time: F 11:30-12:30
WAYS: None
Reading: Light to Heavy (up to you)

CHINA 22Q: Humanities Core: How to be Modern in East Asia (COMPLIT 22Q, HUMCORE 22Q, JAPAN 22Q)
Modernity, while often universalized as a concept, has particular meanings in different regions of the world. This course examines “modernity” in 19th- and 20th-century East Asia—not just through the lens of wars, revolutions, and technological transformations, but also through their reverberations in a unique cultural zeitgeist. Themes include evolving ideas about class, gender, native soil, the folk, migration, Enlightenment, civilization, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and sustainability, as well as how they have shaped China and Japan as we know them. James Reichert and Haiyan Lee are highly engaging professors who assign a great selection of readings: instead of plowing through dry academic treatises, you will be exposed to a vibrant body of literature and films that grapple with the shifting grounds of their times.

Units: 3-5
Time: MWF 1:30-2:50
WAYS: AII
Reading: Medium

FEMGEN 132: Intersectional Feminism
Maxe Crandall’s course offers a nuanced overview of the methods and critiques of intersectionality—one of the most important concepts in third-wave feminism and activism in the United States. Moving beyond intersectionality as mere buzzword, the class traces the development of intersectional analysis from its origins in black feminist thought into the present day. Crandall has also adjusted the requirements of the syllabus to reflect the unique pressures of online learning, and has done an amazing job of flexibly accommodating students’ needs during this trying time.

Units: 4
Time: TTh 4:30-6:20
WAYS: ED
Reading: Light to Medium

ENGLISH 125: Virginia Woolf in the Age of #MeToo
Interested in how contemporary feminism and the #MeToo movement relate to first-wave feminism? This class dives into the work of brilliant and ground-breaking novelist Virigina Woolf to shed light on the broader history of feminism and feminist theory. Apart from engaging with the works from one of the major intellectuals of the 20th century, you will get to do so with Alice Staveley, an incredibly gifted and enthusiastic lecturer. She is adept at kindling thought-provoking discussions that will leave you with a new and more nuanced understanding of Virginia Woolf’s work and feminism as a whole.

Units: 3-5
Time: TTh 10:30-11:50
WAYS: None
Reading: Medium 

FEMGEN 307D: Transhistory Colloquium
Even within the already marginalized history of the LGBTQ community, the histories of trans people have been intentionally omitted and whitewashed. It’s time to change that. In Laura Stokes’ brand new colloquium on transhistory as a discipline, the focus is not just on studying the preexisting historical literature on trans people, but on actively expanding what is possible in the subdiscipline. Professor Stokes’ other areas of expertise include witchcraft and social disorder in early modern Europe, and her ability to excavate fascinating stories from the margins is second to none.

Units: 4-5
Time: TTh 3-4:20
WAYS: None
Reading: Medium-Heavy 

ESS 102: Scientific Basis of Climate Change
The science of climate change is, by now, indisputable. There’s no reason to continue litigating the existence of global warming in 2020—especially not at Stanford. But that wasn’t always the case. Like any idea, a scientific concept like climate change takes time to become a fact. Learning the scientific process through which these changes went from hypotheses and conjectures to widely accepted scientific truths is fascinating in its own right. In ESS 102, you’ll read many of the pioneering papers in the discipline of climate science, from 19th-century works by Arrhenius and Fourier to contemporary writings and intergovernmental reports. 

Units: 3-5
Time: TTh 1:30-2:50
WAYS: None
Reading: Medium (leans scientific)

PHIL 168M: Biological Individuality
So, you think you’re an individual? A single, solitary and undivided organism staring at your laptop screen in your childhood bedroom? Think again! The very concept of the biological individual is far more complex than our intuitions suggest, complicated by the sheer diversity of the picture of life. In this philosophy seminar, you can get weird with it. Think about everything from the human microbiome, to the slime mold, to the coral reef, to the cancer cell in a new way.

Units: 4
Time: W 11:30-2:20
WAYS: None
Reading: Heavy

TAPS 127M: Introduction to Mask
A nice alternative to “Introduction to Clown.” If you believe that English grammar is over-riddled with articles, or that the art of Clown seemed too public, too exposed… consider donning Mask. 

Units: 3
Time: MW 11:30-1:20
WAYS: None
Mask: Just Enough

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