What is SLE?
Sometimes called ‘the liberal arts college experience’ within the University, Structured Liberal Education (SLE) is a residence-based academic program that encourages students to live a life of ideas in an atmosphere that emphasizes critical thinking and interpretation while fostering close student-instructor relationships. In contrast to Thinking Matters courses, SLE is a chronologically structured three-quarter course beginning with the ancient world and ending with the modern period; it provides students with a strong sense of the history of ideas that have shaped our world. Focusing mainly, but not exclusively on the Western tradition, SLE provides students with a strong sense of the history of ideas that have shaped our contemporary moment.
How many units is SLE (and why is it so many units per quarter)?
SLE is 8 units per quarter. This is roughly equivalent to taking two classes. Because it is a double course each quarter, SLE fulfills the Thinking Matters and PWR 1 & 2 requirements. In the course of the year, it also fulfills both Aesthetic and Interpretative Inquiry Ways requirements, the Ethical Reasoning Ways requirement, and the Engaging Diversity Ways requirements. Many humanities departments offer SLE alumni units towards a major or minor in their departments.
What’s the format of the class?
Each week, SLE typically has 3 lectures (Tuesday afternoon and evening, and Wednesday evening), 2 one-hour and forty-five minute discussion sections (Wednesday and Thursday afternoons), and a Thursday evening session for movies, special guests, and student plays. For a sample of the week-to-week schedule, check out our current syllabus.
Where do SLE students live?
SLE students live in one of the three houses of East Florence Moore Hall (East Flo Mo): Alondra, Cardenal, and Faisan. The 90 SLE students make up 50% of the students in East Flo Mo (and about 20% of the entire Flo Mo complex). Making up about half the residents in each house, SLE students in Alondra live with other frosh, while SLE students in Cardenal and Faisan live with upperclass students. You can indicate on the housing form if you prefer all-frosh or four-class, though your preference can’t be guaranteed.
Isn’t SLE just for students wanting to study literature or philosophy?
Not at all! The SLE class always has a healthy mix of students with different academic interests: engineering, social science, science, art, and humanities. SLE’s focus on critical thinking (in discussion and writing), combined with the introduction to the history of ideas, make for great preparation for any further course of study at Stanford.