Stanford unveils new online courses connecting professors and professionals

April 7, 2014, 1:30 a.m.
Courtesy of Linda A. Cicero
Courtesy of Linda A. Cicero

Beginning this June, Stanford will offer a set of courses that will be offered to a small online community of professionals and will eventually culminate in a visit to campus later in the summer.

The Worldview Stanford program emphasizes bringing together information about various important current events — ranging from the future of China to climate change — from different disciplines of research across the University.

According to program director Brie Linkenhoker, the main purpose of Worldview is to connect the research that is being done at Stanford to the broader community and to decision makers.

“Professors who do research here don’t normally get to interact with the very people who are using their research,” Linkenhoker said. “Worldview was built around the idea that people get the opportunity to learn from the research being done at Stanford, and for Stanford to get an idea of what kind of research or information people are looking for out there.”

There will be no traditional professor for the Worldview courses. Instead, course material will be compiled by a Worldview core team that pulls together research and information from various experts in the Stanford community.

William Newsome, professor of neurobiology and one of the faculty mentors, stated that Worldview could benefit Stanford researchers by facilitating connections between the research and the consumers of the research.

“We’re busy and we don’t know how to translate our work and findings in language that can be used well,” Newsome said. “Worldview can help translate what we find and what we discover into practical lessons.”

At time of publication, there will be three courses offered this coming year by Worldview Stanford — The Science of Decision Making, The Futures of China and Environmental Risk and Resilience.

Linkenhoker argued that Worldview Stanford could help bring to light the uniqueness of Stanford’s interdisciplinary research.

“Given Stanford’s great strengths in interdisciplinary scholarships…it felt like we could leverage that really well if we could find out how to package and frame [the knowledge] in a way to help Stanford have a bigger impact on decision making and ensure that the knowledge being created here being used outside of the community,” Linkenhoker said.

Dean of Research Ann Arvin added that in addition to engaging many different researchers from multiple departments and areas of expertise, Worldview has the ability to allow Stanford research to become more relevant to the broader community.

“We’re generating knowledge that is likely to have impact when they address problems that are timely,” she said. “Of course we have a lot of research and scholarly work here that is broader relevant but there’s a special emphasis on pulling together specific research from the experts here.”

Newsome suggested that the development of the program not only helps enrolled students but also the researchers in the relevant fields.

“I think that [Worldview] could bring the faculty together who wouldn’t normally be aware of each other,” Newsome said “I’m finding out about others on campus that I haven’t even heard of even after 25 years being here.”

Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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