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POL 64 B — Shaping America’s Future: Exploring the Key Issues on Our Path to the 2024 Elections

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Oct 2—Nov 27
Time: 5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 4
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $425
Instructor(s): James Steyer
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Oct 2—Nov 27
8 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 4
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
James Steyer
Please Note: No class on November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Join us this fall for an extraordinary journey into the heart of American democracy as we explore critical issues facing our nation in the run-up to the 2024 US elections. This captivating speaker series will feature some of America's most prominent leaders in politics, business, foreign policy, academia, and the media. We'll hear from a range of political leaders and policymakers who will dissect the far-reaching implications of these pivotal elections and share their perspectives on emerging issues and challenges, such as:

  • How can we harness the enormous power of artificial intelligence while at the same time mitigate its potential for harm? How will we balance the interests of free market capitalism and innovation against the clear need for regulation and thoughtful government oversight?
  • How will our nation’s leadership address climate change at local, national, and international levels, and how will the outcome of the 2024 elections shape our ability to make needed progress?
  • How can US citizens and politicians on both sides of the political aisle work together to help strengthen our commitment to democracy as well as to global democratic principles and institutions? How can we protect voting rights and legislation that reflects the interests of everyday people over interest groups and highly paid lobbyists?
  • What role are social media, smartphones, and other popular technologies playing in the worsening mental health of America's young people, including Stanford students? And what steps must we take to help better protect our youth from the impacts of technology?
  • How can we hold our elected officials accountable for addressing the widening wealth disparity in our nation and ensure greater opportunity for all, particularly younger Americans?
This unique weekly course will cultivate a comprehensive understanding of the elections and the broader landscape of American politics and democratic institutions. We will also encourage introspection on the actions that individual citizens and students can take to forge a path toward a better world for all.

Guest Speakers will include:

Pam Karlan, Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Stanford Law School

David Simas, Former White House Political Director (Obama Administration)

Condoleezza Rice, Former US Secretary of State and current Director of the Hoover Institute, Stanford

Jamie Raskin, US Representative for Maryland's 8th Congressional District

General Jim Mattis, Former US Secretary of Defense (Trump Administration) and retired US Marine Corps Four-Star General

Tom Steyer, Climate Investor and Activist

Nicholas Kristof, Journalist and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Ruth Marcus, Journalist at The Washington Post

Steve Schmidt, Political Analyst, longtime Republican Campaign Strategist

Cecilia Kang, Technology and Regulation Journalist at New York Times

Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States (Biden Administration)

Laurie Santos, Cognitive Scientist and Professor of Psychology at Yale

Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn and Internet Entrepreneur

Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair of the Emerson Collective

Bill McKibben, Founder of Third Act and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of Climate Campaign Group 350.org

Jane Fonda, Actor and Activist

Tom Friedman, Commentator and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Neal Katyal, Former US Principal Deputy Solicitor General (Obama Administration)

Please note: The list of speakers will continue to be updated, with more participants to come.

This course is designed for the entire Stanford community, and Continuing Studies students will be joined by Stanford undergraduates and Stanford graduate and professional students. This course may not be taken for a letter grade.

Students can choose to attend this course on campus or online. Sign up for Section A if you think you might attend class on the Stanford campus at least once. There is no commitment—you can still choose to attend via Zoom. Sign up for Section B if you know you will exclusively attend via Zoom.

Course Director; Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media; Adjunct Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

James Steyer is the founder and chief executive officer of Common Sense, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing information and education. For more than 30 years, he has taught a variety of courses on civil rights, civil liberties, and education issues at Stanford, where he is an adjunct professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. He has received many teaching honors, including the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the author of The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children, Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, and Which Side of History? How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives. Steyer received a JD from Stanford Law School.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) James P. Steyer, Which Side of History?: How Technology is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives (ISBN 978-1797205168)