Learn about the neuroscience of stress in this excellent introductory text by renowned Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky
Start / End
14 – 18
January 16 – May 29, 2023
2 – 10 Learners
Class + Project add-on
$200 per Learner
$250 per Learner
Halloween Discount (expires 10/31/2022)
$30 off basic enrollment
Stress is a common part of our lives, and we experience it in many ways. By understanding the science of stress – how it affects us physically, mentally, and socially – we can better understand basic neuroscience and how our experiences affect our brains, bodies, and social relationships.
This is a rigorous reading course for Dr. Robert Sapolsky’s book on stress, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: the Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping. This book connects to many college-preparatory topics, such as the biochemistry and neuroscience of stress, how we cope and manage stress, and reflects on how evolutionary adaptive biological systems can be pushed into unhealthy statuses in today’s world.
Discussions will begin with the material in the book and will expand into our daily lives and current discussions about stress and neuroscience.
Assignments will primarily be a reading journal with short responses to prompts and reactions to the reading in an asynchronous discussion forum. There will be two mini-projects due during the course to expand on a topic of the learner’s choice and may be in a format agreed upon by learner and instructor.
This class has an optional add-on to do a final project related to a course topic that will receive guidance and feedback from the instructor.
Approximately 3 hours of work total per week.
Reading load: ~20-30 pages per week of nonfiction conversational science plus supplementary material like websites, news articles, research articles. Time varies based on reading speed.
Each week will start on Monday, and weekly assignments will be due that following Sunday to receive feedback. Late assignments will not receive feedback.
This will be an intensive guided course taught in a college-preparatory style. We will cover 1-2 chapters per week (30-40 pages), so it is important to keep up on the reading.
Assignments will include a reading journal, short review/reflection statements, and may include supplementary sources for expansion of discussion. There will be two mini-projects due during the course that will be opportunities to “dig deeper” into a topic; these may be in a variety of formats as long as they are approved by the instructor, such as video essay, slide presentation, or traditional written essay.
Learners are also encouraged to post on the Discord channel at least once a week with a reaction to something in the reading or a question.
This class has an optional add-on to do a final project related to a course topic that will receive guidance and feedback from the instructor. If you sign up for this add-on option, we will schedule a separate meeting for individual work and feedback.
This course is approximately equivalent to 60 instructional hours.
- Reading skills to regularly read and finish a nonfiction conversational science book of 540 pages
- Ability to interact constructively and respectfully in an asynchronous format
- Ability to express ideas coherently through voice or text
- Ability to engage constructively and respectfully with ideas that are controversial or challenging
- Recommended: basic engagement with online space (Discord) in flexible setting
- Reading skills: comprehension, reflection, evaluation
- Discussion skills: turn taking, respectfully sharing opinions, thinking creatively
- Planning skills: doing reading segments in time for class meetings, making it to class on time
- Science: introduction to big-picture neuroscience and physiology, connection/integration with lived experiences
- Social Studies: connection of social factors to medical, physiological, and mental health topics
- Project skills (optional): planning, brainstorming, executing project. Specific skills vary depending on project topic and medium.
Evaluation and assignments:
Assignments will focus on support recall, understanding, and expansion of/on the reading and will receive feedback if submitted on time. Weekly reading journals will be assigned, and there will be a choice of mini-projects to do during the course.
There will be no evaluation for this class unless you contact the instructor before the start of the course to arrange for evaluation.
Completion certificates may be issued if requested at the start of the course.
Families and learners are invited to share with the instructor about any special needs or accommodations that are necessary or helpful for the class. Families and learners will be able to contact the instructor with any concerns. Instructor will work with learners to choose a project format that works with learners’ abilities and needs. Cameras and microphones are optional for this class.
This book was originally written in 1994 (revised twice since then) and includes discussions of older scientific practices that did not acknowledge distinctions between sex and gender, included gender essentialist ideas, reinforced structural racism, sexism, and oppression, and includes general description of animal experimentation. Author has updated some parts to acknowledge problematic past of scientific research and presents material in a respectful and thoughtful way to promote more discussion. Topics discussed in the book include poverty, neglect and abuse as related to physical and mental development, and systemic oppression.
A usable copy of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
ISBN / ASIN for this book:
- ISBN 9780805073690
- ISBN 0805073698
- ISBN 13 978-0805073690
- ISBN 9781429935654 (e-book)
- ASIN (audiobook): B00AU91D7K
There are no pre-scheduled live meetings since this is a guided class. However, if you do wish to attend an “office hours” live meeting, you will need a mic and camera if using Zoom (or similar program).
Discord is required for asynchronous discussion and engagement.
Students doing the project add-on will have the option to communicate with the instructor through Zoom, Discord, or email.
Dr. Sabrina Weiss
Dr. Sabrina Weiss specializes in developing theoretical models that represent the ethical and social dimensions of issues at the intersection of science, technology, and society.
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