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Three Books - This Year's Theme is Science

Three Books 2014

The Three Books chosen this year for Stanford's summer reading program for the Class of 2018 and incoming transfer students are My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki, Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller, and Radioactive by Lauren Redniss.

About This Course

Among those of you arriving at Stanford in the fall of 2014, there are future lawyers, doctors, engineers, artists, professors, scientists, writers, investors, inventors, and representatives of every other career path you can imagine. Perhaps there is even a future President! You may not be a scientist or engineer, but science and scientists will exert influence on any life path you choose.

We live in a society dominated by technology where scientific discoveries are finding their way with remarkable speed into our culture. Almost all aspects of our daily lives, from the way we get information and communicate to the food that we eat, are touched by modern science. And no matter what life path you choose, being aware of how science and scientists interact with society will be important to you.

While we hope you will enjoy the books individually, we also believe that the thematic links between the three books will generate a lot of interesting conversation. For example, all three books discuss scientific advances with the potential for significant benefit to society as well as the potential for devastating harm. The discovery of radioactivity is one example, the discovery of antibiotics and hormonal therapies another. Whom can we trust to give us an unbiased impact assessment? How do we develop informed opinions? What is the responsibility of the scientists to help us understand both the benefits and dangers of their work? What is the responsibility of the novelist or biographer to educate themselves and us on the facts or do they only have to tell a ‘good story’?

Given these questions, we want incoming Stanford students to have a Three Books course site that will enable you to learn more about the books, their authors, and the subjects they discuss. This online course will be your space over the summer and after you arrive on campus where you can talk to one another, as well as engage with Stanford professors, about what you have been reading.

This will also serve as your opportunity to shape some of the conversation we will all have with Laura Redniss, Rich Muller and Ruth Ozeki during New Student Orientation this fall.

We recommend using either Chrome or Firefox for the Three Books course running on the OpenEdX platform. If you have trouble registering with your SUNet ID, please use your Stanford email account to email us at for assistance.

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