The Coolest Classes at Stanford You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

THE GRASS IS GREEN. The sun is shining. Outdoor naps are the norm - it’s officially spring quarter. Most of us want to have a relatively fun and relaxed spring quarter, and one of the best ways to make that happen is by taking some classes that will actually get you excited enough to move from your comfy spot on the Meyer Green.

Luckily, Stanford has lots of these kinds of classes - interesting material, dynamic professors, even field trips. All the better if these classes have a light workload or fulfill some WAYS requirements. Since it’s not always easy to hear about these gems before it’s too late, we decided to find some of the coolest classes at Stanford and bring them to you with time to spare before the add/drop deadline. Read on for your new favorite class, there’s something here for everyone.


Earthsys 180B: Principles and practices of sustainable agriculture
3-4 units

The best way to take advantage of the spring quarter weather? Taking a class where getting outside is required! This class teaches ecologically sound farming practices at the Stanford Community Farm and includes field trips to other farms in the area. Learn about farming, food, plants, and marketing in a fun and hands-on way, all while enjoying this sunny spring weather.


africaam 188: Who we be: art, images, and race in post civil rights america
2-4 Units

This class explores American demographic and cultural changes in the past 50 years by looking at contemporary art, justice movements, and popular culture. Topics concerning race, art, hip hop and more are covered. On top of it all, the class is taught by music critic, journalist, and award winning author Jeff Chang. His 2005 book Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop tells of the early hip hop scene while his most recent work, Who We Be: The Colorization of America, focuses on multiculturalism in the United States. Chang is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts here at Stanford!


earthsys 103: understanding energy
3 Units

This 3 unit class is made for anyone who wants to learn more about energy - from how energy use impacts the environment to how new developments change the way we use energy. It’s goal is to teach students how to think critically about the energy resources that we utilize in our everyday lives. There are two optional courses to compliment this lecture class. The first is an 80 minute workshop to delve deeper into certain topics, and the other includes field trips to a wind farm, an oil field, and more.


Dance 100: Dance, movement, and medicine
1-2 Units

Interested in the intersection of dance and medicine? This class will have you up on your feet and dancing while learning about the relationship between these two disciplines through the lens of Parkinson’s Disease. This class consists of two parts: a weekly lecture or seminar presentation taught by medical and dance professionals and a weekly dance class with “Dance for PD”, a community dance class for people with Parkinson’s. No dance experience necessary!


other cool classes:

anthro 124N: maya, mythology and the popol vuh
3-5 Units

This IntroSem explores Maya Mythology as described in the writings in the Popol Vuh, the sacred text of the Mayan people. The class is “a cool intersection of linguistics, anthropology, and mythology,” so it can appeal to a variety of interests. On top of it all, this class is taught by linguistic anthropologist James Fox, who is one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about the Maya. He “notices subtleties in the writings and stories that few others notice.”


GS 183: California desert Geologic field trip
1 unit

This one-unit field seminar only meets three times throughout winter quarter, and culminates in a spring-break field trip to the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, and Owens Valley in southern California. Anyone interested in geology or just loves nature will get to explore California’s hot springs, sand dunes, and much more. Plus you’ll get to camp out and do some hiking along the way!


physics 81N: science on the back of the envelope
3 units

Looking for a class that will blow your mind? Then this IntroSem is just what you need. The class explores how we can understand the world around us quantitatively by applying fundamental laws of nature, and teaches students about “the beautiful unity of nature.”


english 167H: the ethical gangster
3-5 units

Is your ideal homework assignment watching The Godfather? And your ideal lecture watching and discussing The Sopranos? Then this class is definitely for you. This English class, which can be taken for 3 or 5 units, explores human moral psychology through modern mafia film, literature, and other media. One student told us that “if taken for 3 units”, the only work you would have to do for this class, “outside of watching movies and some mild reading is a single paper.” The best part? It fulfills WAYS-ER! Now you can learn about the ethics behind The Godfather while knocking out your graduation requirements.


biohopk 185H: the ecology and conservation of kelp forest communities
5 units

The perfect solution to your search for summer plans. This summer course “provides a fully immersive experience and introduction to the world of marine biology” and is held at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. The five-week course consists of morning dives and lab-based lectures. Plus, this class is open to students of all years and majors, and tuition is covered! So there really is no excuse not to take this exciting summer class.


Music 39N: the classical string quartet: Haydn, Mozart, beethoven, and schubert
3 units

This seminar explores the history surrounding the canonic works of the string quartet repertory and includes field trips to the Beethoven Center in San Jose and chamber music concerts on campus. The coolest part of this class is that the St. Lawrence String Quartet visits class on a regular basis with live demonstrations and coaching. Performers are encouraged to bring instruments to class, but non performers are more than welcome to take this class.

By: Paulina Campos