Faculty Guidance

The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) was charged with examining Stanford’s requirements “as part of the overall structure and fabric of undergraduate education.” A central recommendation of the SUES report was to transform the mechanism by which undergraduates achieve educational breadth from one based on sampling disciplines to one based on cultivating essential capacities, or Ways of Thinking and Ways of Doing.  For students, the new focus on capacities should help them be more purposeful in designing their own educations—in effect, actively creating an education rather than passively receiving and instrumentally checking off boxes to complete it.  For faculty, the focus on capacities rather than disciplines should provide students with tools, information, and guidance needed to enable them to become adaptive learners, readily able to meet the unanticipated challenges that lie ahead.  

Eight Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing(hereafter Ways) were defined, developed, and refined by SUES and approved by the Faculty Senate.  A Breadth Governance Board (BGB), comprised of faculty from disciplines spanning much of undergraduate education, was formed and entrusted with responsibility for a final articulation of the Ways, and for ongoing oversight of the new breadth system.  The BGB is charged to work in close collaboration with the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education both to create the system—registering existing courses in appropriate Ways and fostering new course development where sufficient offerings do not yet exist—and to maintain it, keeping the Ways robust in the future.

The following sections describe each of the Ways, as articulated and approved by the Breadth Governance Board.  This has been written mainly for the purpose of communicating to faculty the content of each Way in order to facilitate choices in offering courses as part of the new system.  It is also intended to provide a sense of the spirit in which the descriptions of the Ways have been constructed so that the faculty can read beyond what is written here.  It is our hope that in doing this, both faculty and students will be able to engage Stanford’s new system of general education electives in imaginative ways that not only foster breadth but also take advantage of the many opportunities Stanford has to offer in support of a liberal education.