Form 4: THINK, ESF, and ILE Preferences

cover of thinking matters course catalog, an image of "the thinker" statue

This form collects your ranked preferences for courses in Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters that satisfy the freshman year Thinking Matters requirement. There are three ways to satisfy the requirement: one Thinking Matters course in Autumn, Winter, or Spring; Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF) in Autumn; or Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC) or Structured Liberal Education (SLE) in Autumn, Winter, and Spring.

These options are described below and fully discussed in the Thinking Matters Catalog enclosed with the Approaching Stanford Handbook. Be sure to read the Thinking Matters Catalog carefully to help you make informed academic decisions. There are at least seven courses offered each quarter and you should rank your top four preferences for each quarter. We use these rankings to make preliminary plans for course size and will give you a preliminary assignment to one course for the year.

Transfer students are not required to complete the Thinking Matters requirement and should skip Form 4.

How can I fulfill my Thinking Matters requirement?

  1. Individual Thinking Matters Courses: Each Thinking Matters course earns 4 units of credit, with two 50-minute faculty lectures and two 50-minute discussion sections each week. Each course will also satisfy at least one WAYS requirement. More than 95% of students receive one of their top ranked Thinking Matters courses. There will be spaces open in every Thinking Matters course if you decide to enroll in a different (and/or additional) Thinking Matters course instead of (and/or in addition to) your preliminary assignment.
  2. Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF): Offered only in Autumn Quarter, Education as Self- Fashioning (ESF) provides an opportunity for you to satisfy both the PWR 1 requirement and the Thinking Matters requirement in a single 7-unit course. Each week, you attend both a 75-minute faculty-led seminar discussion, two 110-minute writing-intensive class sessions, and a lecture by a prominent speaker on the nature and meaning of liberal education. The form will ask you to rank ESF along with the other Thinking Matters Autumn courses.  If you choose ESF as one of your top four Autumn preferences, be sure to review and rank all five ESF seminar options on Form 5.
  3. Integrated Learning Environments (ILEs): By integrating the academic and residential experience, ILEs offer a comprehensive approach to liberal education across the entire first year. ILEs satisfy multiple General Education requirements by combining study on specific thematic areas and writing instruction. Students participating within each ILE will live together in a residence where courses and other academic activities will take place. The two ILEs offered in 2015-16, ITALIC and SLE, are described below. Because each ILE is a three-quarter course sequence, if you want to be considered for an ILE you must rank it as your first or second preference, and give it the same ranking for each quarter on Form 4. Space is limited and ILE faculty and staff may also consider the information you submit on Forms 1, 3, and 7 in making their selections. If you are selected for an ILE, you will automatically be assigned to live in the affiliated residence and thus must also indicate this preference on the Housing Preferences Form (Form 6).


More information about ILEs

Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC)

ITALIC is a residence-based program built around a series of big questions about the historical, critical, and practical purposes of art and its unique capacities for intellectual creativity. This year-long program fosters close exchanges among faculty, students, and guest artists in class, over meals, and during excursions to arts events. We rigorously trace the challenges that art has presented to categories of knowledge—such as history, politics, culture, science, medicine, and law—by making the arts our frame for exploring existence.

All lectures, sections, hands-on arts workshops, and guest talks take place in a cluster of on-site seminar and practice rooms. Students live and learn together, participating in a series of close readings and analyses of canonical works of theatre, film, dance, music, and visual arts, including examples of street art, comics, and popular culture.

ITALIC satisfies the Thinking Matters requirement, PWR 1, and four WAYS requirements. ITALIC students earn a total of 16 units for the year: 4 units during two quarters and 8 units during the PWR quarter. This gives students the freedom to take several additional classes outside of ITALIC each quarter to round out the freshman year, while still maintaining a strong connection to the arts at Stanford.

Structured Liberal Education (SLE)

Structured Liberal Education is the liberal arts college experience within the University. It is a chronologically structured three-quarter course beginning with the ancient world and ending in modernity. The students in the SLE Program live together in Florence Moore Hall, along with other freshmen and upperclassmen. Conversations that begin in the main lounge, where the lectures are held, often spill over into the dining halls and student lounges, creating a lively and collaborative intellectual atmosphere.

Focusing on great works of philosophy, religion, literature, painting, and film, the SLE curriculum places particular emphasis on artists and intellectuals who brought new ways of thinking and new ways of creating into the world, often overthrowing prior traditions in the process. These are the works that redefined beauty, challenged the authority of conventional wisdom, raised questions of continuing importance to us today, and—for good or ill—created the world we still live in.

In the course of the year, SLE lectures are given by faculty experts from all over the University. In-depth class discussions center on close readings and critical analysis of primary texts. Because of the intensive interaction with the SLE instructors and the one-on-one work with writing tutors, SLE students make great strides in their writing abilities, whatever their main field of interest. Extracurricular activities include trips to Bay Area performances, special guests (including artists, poets, and political figures), “SLE Challenges,” and a student-produced play each quarter.

SLE fulfills the Thinking Matters requirement, PWR 1 and PWR 2, and four WAYS requirements. SLE counts for 8 units per quarter, about half of the normal academic load, allowing students to take two or three other courses per quarter.