2022 Exploration Courses

Program Schedule

Exploration Courses are offered asynchronously. This means students will not have set required times to attend "live" class sessions. However students should not mistake this flexibility with a self-paced course. Each course will include discussions, lectures, readings, and assignments that will need to be completed by specific deadlines. Each course has between 30-40 hours worth of content that may be offered over two, five, or ten weeks depending upon the course and semester.

Instructors will schedule optional synchronous office hours each week for students to check-in and ask questions about course content. 

Course Materials

There are no required textbooks for Exploration Courses. Instructors will share course materials via Canvas, WashU's learning management system. 

Students will need to have a computer and Wi-Fi, and access to a camera and microphone. We do not recommend the use of a cell phone only to participate in these courses. 

Spring 2022

Personal Narrative

January 18-April 1, 2022

Objects. Photos. Scripts. These are some of the ingredients that we will include, as we write a collection of personal narratives in this ten-week online course. As you focus your projects around that single object, a collection of photos, and a script in the first half of the course, you’ll receive comments from other students on your writing. During the second half of the course, you’ll expand one of these pieces with an eye to the Common App essay prompts. As you experiment with these genres of personal narrative writing, you’ll develop your ability to tell your stories and to share them with others. The course will culminate with your ePortfolio—a collection of your personal narrative writing and reflections on them. If you’ve ever wondered how to put a moving moment in your life into words, join us!  A copy of 2021 course syllabus is available here.

Prerequisite: two years of high school English.

Meet the Instructor Dr. Kate Bloomquist

Genetic Engineering

January 18-April 1, 2022

Genetic Engineering will investigate real-world applications of modern genetics. We will use case studies to learn about cutting-edge genetic engineering technologies, pulling from diverse examples from the fields of biomedical engineering, agriculture, evolution, ecology, and pharmacogenomics. Students will gain a better understanding of how biologists, engineers, and environmental scientists collaborate to address complicated problems with a multidisciplinary approach. This class will encourage the integration of technology to facilitate information transfer through web resources, video lectures, video discussions, and on-line presentations. A copy of the 2021 syllabus is available here.

Prerequisite: two years of high school science, one of which should be biology.

MEET THE INSTRUCTOR DR. SARAH CHAVEZ

Summer 2022

Case Studies in Biology

June 13-July 15, 2022

New for 2022! As scientists, we take a lot of STEM classes, including biology, chemistry, physics, and math. But we often don’t have time to connect all of this information together. That’s where case studies are so incredibly helpful. Case Studies in Biology will use real world examples to help teach students about the scientific process and how theories and hypotheses are developed. Sometimes the answers aren’t clear, and even experts can’t agree. Using case studies, we will analyze data and apply biology concepts to learn about how to form a solid argument, supported by evidence from published research. This is your chance to learn how to conduct systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses to analyze scientific controversies and develop your own theories. 

Prerequisite: none.

Meet the instructor Dr. Sarah Chavez

Set in Stone? Monuments, Memory & Public History

June 20-July 8, 2022

New for 2022! This online course is designed to provide students with a historical perspective of the centrality of monuments and memory to nation building. The course walks students through an analysis of recent actions to bring down statues/monuments. The course is divided in three parts allowing for the scrutinization of the cultural importance of statues in the crafting of national memories, their place in public spaces, and the debate over their permanence after a society adopts a critical review of the past. 

Prerequisite: none

What Should I Believe and Why? Navigating Our World Through Fake News, Outsourcing Information, and Disagreement

June 27-July 15, 2022

New for 2022! Today’s world is filled with information, and oftentimes an overload of information, leaving us wondering, what should we believe?  This course is a practically oriented philosophy course which looks at common sources of information and asks students to reflect on whether these sources are unreliable or problematic in some way when it comes to learning, attaining knowledge, and growing in understanding.

Prerequisite: None

Meet the instructor Maria Waggoner

Personal Narrative

July 11-22, 2022

Objects. Photos. Scripts. These are some of the ingredients that we will include, as we write a collection of personal narratives in this two-week online course. As you focus your projects around that single object, a collection of photos, and a script in the first week, you’ll receive comments from other students on your writing. During the second week, you’ll expand one of these pieces with an eye to the Common App essay prompts. As you experiment with these genres of personal narrative writing, you’ll develop your ability to tell your stories and to share them with others. The course will culminate with your ePortfolio—a collection of your personal narrative writing and reflections on them. If you’ve ever wondered how to put a moving moment in your life into words, join us this this summer! A copy of the 2021 syllabus is available here.

Prerequisite: two years of high school English.

Meet the Instructor Dr. Kate Bloomquist

Introduction to Environmental Science

July 18-August 18, 2022

Students will be introduced to the fields (biology, geography, sociology, economics, natural resource management, chemistry, and geology) used in understanding both the workings of the natural world and human interactions with our environment. Learning will take place through recorded lectures, asynchronous assignments and discussions, short videos, and optional synchronous office hours. Topics include: human population growth, energy resources, land and food resources, water resources, air pollution, global climate change, and human health and toxicology, as well as a review of ecology and species diversity. Sustainability is a unifying theme throughout the course, as is an understanding of the linkages between ecosystems. This understanding will give students a greater appreciation for and better stewardship of the world in which they live. Copy of 2021 syllabus is available here.

Prerequisite: at least two years of high school science including biology.

MEET THE INSTRUCTOR DR. KATE HANES

Cancer Biology

July 18-August 18, 2022

New for 2022! Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, and incidence is rising as the global population ages. In this class, we will look at cancer from multiple perspectives, from cancer biology to epidemiology to therapeutics. We will learn how cancer develops, with a focus on cancer prevention, control, and diagnostics. Students will use published research to learn about cutting edge treatments and ongoing clinical trials to understand the complex nature of the disease, our progress, and the future of oncology. 

Prerequisite: at least two years of high school science including biology.

Meet the instructor Dr. Sarah Chavez

Metacognating Mario: Learning and Video Games

August 1-18, 2022

New for 2022! Although we often associate education with school-based activity, human beings learn in multiple environments beyond the formal classroom. Video games, while often dismissed as frivolous entertainment, provide one such example of a significant experiential learning context: individual players develop skills in the pursuit of goals, collaborate with each other to advance their theorizing about the game's mechanics, and display deep engagement and persistence in the face of frustration despite a lack of extrinsic rewards. Among the questions encountered in this course will be: What kind of understanding is built through game play? How might games teach us about ourselves as learners? In what ways might the skills involved in learning to play a game transfer to learning in other contexts? What pedagogical lessons might teachers take from game designers? Throughout the course, readings and activities will promote rigorous, critical analysis of both games and theories
 of learning.

Prerequisite: none

Meet the Instructor Dr. Lisa Gilbert