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Stanford Continuing Studies offers new course for Stanford students

The course will feature high-profile speakers including Hillary Clinton, Sundar Pichai, and Cory Booker, who will examine the current state of America and its institutions.

Stanford Continuing Studies is offering a new course available to Stanford students this fall quarter. Politics 2022: America at a Crossroads will convene an eclectic group of prominent figures across fields to explore the state of America and its institutions. The course is a rare offering from Continuing Studies, which typically only offers courses for adult learners and the broader community.

Politics 2022: America at a Crossroads will include such guest speakers as Hillary Clinton, Sundar Pichai, and Cory Booker. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

“This is a great opportunity for undergrads and grad students to be exposed to some really influential and impactful leaders, and hear them discuss the challenges our nation faces, as well as opportunities for positive change,” said Jim Steyer, the course instructor.

Each week the course will feature guest speakers, including leaders in government, business, media, medicine, and academia. They will discuss the convergence of social, economic, and public health challenges that have profoundly impacted the lives of Americans in recent years, and their implications for the upcoming midterm elections. Speakers will also examine major current topics such as widening inequality, technology and democracy, gender politics, racial violence, the Supreme Court and the rule of law, and foreign policy.

Steyer, who is the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media and an adjunct professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, said the course will delve into the distinctive moment in which we’re currently living.

Jim Steyer will teach Politics 2022: America at a Crossroads. (Image credit: Courtesy Jim Steyer)

“This is a unique and challenging time for the political norms and institutions of the country,” he said. “When Stanford students assess the role of tech and media, education, foreign policy, or law and justice in our democracy, I want them to hear from the CEOs, award-winning journalists, leading thinkers, and top policymakers and politicians who are shaping America’s political future today.”

For example, the Oct. 10 class will feature former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and journalist and New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristoff in a talk titled “The State of American Democracy.”

Other guest speakers will include Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, BS ’89; U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, BA ’91, MA ’92; U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, BA ’96; journalist Ruth Marcus; and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, BA ’82. Steyer said that his work with civil rights, education, government, and Common Sense Media allowed him to leverage partnerships and connections to secure such an impressive lineup.

Politics 2022 will convene from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for eight Mondays, starting Oct. 3 and ending Dec. 5. It is open to Stanford undergraduate and graduate students and is cross-listed in the departments of Communication (COMM 159A) and Political Science (POLISCI 82), and the Graduate School of Education (EDUC 61.) Students will receive 1 unit for completing the course, which offered credit/no credit instead of a letter grade. Any Stanford student can enroll in the course as room is available.

Stanford students will attend in-person at CEMEX Auditorium at the Graduate School of Business and non-Stanford students will attend virtually via Zoom. Most guest speakers will also attend virtually, while any potential in-person appearances will depend on the speaker’s schedule and availability.

“As a longtime Stanford instructor, I’m very excited to have undergrads and grad students back in the classroom together in such a fun setting. And of course, there will also be Continuing Studies students adding key perspectives to the class,” Steyer said. “I want students to not only understand the issues we are facing in American politics, but why these issues matter to them personally – in their lives, at home for their families, and for the change they want to effect in this world.”

In 2011, ahead of the 2012 general election, Stanford Continuing Studies offered the course Election 2012 to Stanford students in the hope of increasing their engagement with and interest in the political process. Jennifer Deitz, director and associate dean for Continuing Studies, said that the course was popular enough that Continuing Studies offered a mid-term election course two years later.

“With everything happening in the country these last couple of years, Continuing Studies is making it a priority to create opportunities for intergenerational students to join with community members of all ages to participate in courses focused on political and social justice themes, as well as current events,” Deitz said.

Each year, more than 17,000 lifelong learners enroll in Stanford Continuing Studies courses in liberal arts and sciences, wellness and health, creative writing, and professional development. Courses are open to all adults and offered both online and on campus.

This fall, Stanford Continuing Studies is offering more than 120 online courses and more than 20 on-campus courses. Classes include Iconic Artworks of the Renaissance; Climate Change in Context: What Does the Past Tell Us About the Future?; 19th-Century Gothic Novels: Frankenstein and Dracula; and Ethical Data and AI: Concepts and Tools for Responsible Decision-Making.

For more information about Stanford Continuing Studies and its course offerings, visit the Continuing Studies website.