2023 High School Summer Scholars Program Courses

Program Schedule

High School Summer Scholars start their day with breakfast, independent study, and their for credit course(s). Students choose one or two 3-unit credit course(s) that meet from 9:00-10:45am, 11:00am-12:45pm, or 1:00-2:45pm. Courses meet Monday-Friday. Topics include humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. 

When not in class, students have time to grab lunch and participate in independent or group study. 

Late afternoon and evenings are spent in optional enrichment activities and dinner. After dinner, community events provide students the opportunity to reflect and relax at the end of a busy day. 

Weekends are spent socializing with peers, studying, and exploring St. Louis.

Course Materials

Students can visit the Campus Bookstore (High School Summer Scholars Program courses are Section 21) to view and purchase books online. Textbook information is typically posted 2 weeks before the class start date. Don’t be alarmed if a textbook isn’t listed for a course. Some instructors don’t use textbooks or will wait to share textbook information with students until the first day of classes. Instructors will also share course materials via Canvas, WashU's learning management system. 

Students should plan to bring a laptop or tablet for use during class sessions and to complete assignments. The program will provide students with a small notebook, pens, and folder. 

Credit Courses

Credit courses are taught by Washington University instructors which include faculty, graduate students, post docs, and adjuncts from across campus disciplines and research fields including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. These courses are undergraduate courses offered by the College of Arts & Sciences and are open to pre-college, undergraduate, and visiting students. Introductory-level curriculum provides an opportunity for students to create a strong foundation for future undergraduate studies.

When offered during the regular school year, these courses are given over 16 weeks, so the pace during the summer is quite accelerated. Courses may include lectures, discussions, and group work. Students should expect any combination of daily assignments, readings, exams, quizzes, papers, and presentations. For every hour spent in class, students should expect at least two hours of work outside of class.

About Course Listings

These course listings are subject to change and cancellation without notice. A student must meet any prerequisites listed for the course to be approved to enroll. Once admitted to the program, students should submit their registration materials as soon as possible to ensure a spot in their first choice course selection. Registration is processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If a course is full, it will be indicated below.

When available, a previous summer's syllabus is included in each individual description. Instructors do not remain the same every summer. You should expect similar content, but readings and assignments can vary. 

American Politics (L32 101B)

This course provides an overview of the politics of the American system of government. Among the topics to be covered are the historical developments of American politics, federalism, political participation (voting, interest groups, parties), institutions (congress, the courts, the president), and public opinion. A theme underlying our examination of these and other topics will be the fact that political actors are purposive in their strategic pursuit of various objectives. We will explore the many ways in which this aspect of political behavior impacts institutions and the interactions between political actors throughout the American political system. Copy of the 2021 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 9:00-10:45am

Biology of the Brain (L41 120)

This course is for students who wish to learn about the biology of the nervous system, and the scientific process of understanding how it works. Biology of the Brain will include lecture, discussion, and analysis of cutting edge research, so active participation will be important. We will discuss the gross anatomy and cellular composition of the brain. We will analyze how the brain develops, changes with experience to create memories, and recovers from injury. Along the way, we will discuss nervous system dysfunction a range of contexts such as Addiction, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Prerequisites: biology. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Biomedical Ethics (L30 233F)

A critical examination, in light of contemporary moral disagreements and traditional ethical theories, of some of the moral issues arising out of medical practice and experimentation in our society. May include euthanasia, genetic engineering, abortion, medical malpractice, the allocation of medical resources, and the rights of the patient. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Differential Equations (L24 217)

Intro to ordinary differential equations: first-order equations, linear equations, systems of equations, series solutions, and Laplace transform methods. Computer-aided study of numerical solutions and graphics phase planes. Prerequisites: Calculus III. Copy of 2022 syllabus available here.

Time: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Elementary Probability and Statistics (L24 2200)

An elementary introduction to statistical concepts, reasoning and data analysis. Topics include statistical summaries and graphical presentations of data, discrete and continuous random variables, the logic of statistical inference, design of research studies, point and interval estimation, hypothesis testing, and linear regression. Students will learn a critical approach to reading statistical analyses reported in the media, and how to correctly interpret the outputs of common statistical routines for fitting models to data and testing hypotheses. A major objective of the course is to gain familiarity with basic R commands to implement common data analysis procedures. Prerequisite: Calculus I. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Finite Mathematics (L24 220)

Topics from discrete mathematics will be explored with an emphasis on problem-solving and methods of proofs. Modules on counting; combinatorial tools; binomial coefficients and Pascal's triangle; Fibonacci numbers; combinatorial probability; integers, divisors and primes; and graphs will be covered as well as additional topics as time permits. Addressed mainly to college freshmen and sophomores; it would also be suitable to advanced high school students with an interest in mathematics. Prerequisites: A good understanding of high school mathematics. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

History of Western Art, Architecture & Design (L01 113)

A history of the visual arts, including architecture, sculpture, painting, and design, from the ancient world to the present with emphasis on the relationship of art to society and to political and cultural events. Prerequisite: None. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

History of World Christianities from Jesus Christ to Catherine Tekakwitha, the Mohawk Saint (L22 245)

New for 2023! The purpose of this course is to introduce first year students in an intimate setting to major topics in national security policy. For that reason, enrollments will be kept small. The goal is to provide insights for students considering a major in history and perhaps even a career in policy. The course structure will rotate topics (intelligence, war, world orders, etc.) each time it is taught. Prerequisite: None

Time: MTWTHF, 9:00-10:45am

Intro to Cultural Anthropology (L48 160B)

This course covers the basic concepts and theoretical principles of sociocultural anthropology. Course material is presented from Asia, Africa, Melanesia, Latin America, and North America. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Intro to Macroeconomics (L11 1021)

Business fluctuations: inflation, recession; monetary and fiscal policy; economic development. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Intro to Microeconomics (L11 1011)

Determination of prices; distribution of national income; theory of production. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 9:00-10:45am

Intro to Psychology (L33 100B)

Survey and analysis of concepts, research, and theory covering the areas of learning, memory, motivation, personality, social, abnormal, clinical, and biological psychology. Introduces the diversity of questions, areas, approaches, research, and theories that compose the study of mind and behavior. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Intro to Statistics (L24 1011)

Data collection: sampling and designing experiments. Data organization: data, tables, graphs, frequency distributions, numerical summarization of data, and consumer price index. Inference: elementary probability and hypothesis testing. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2021 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Intro to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (L77 100B)

This course will provide an introduction examination of major topics and concepts in the interdisciplinary field of women, gender and sexuality. We will examine the meanings attached to terms such as "man," "woman," "gay," and "sex." Topics discussed may include the history of feminist movements, masculinity, biological frameworks for understanding gender, intimate violence, sexual identities, and intersectionality. Prerequisites: None. 

Times: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Logic and Critical Analysis (L30 100G)

This course is an introduction to first-order logic. Logic is the study of the formal properties of arguments. In this course, we learn how to make arguments precise by formalizing sentences and applying methods of deductive reasoning to prove conclusions. We also discuss the relations between logical reasoning and informal reasoning, and logic and rationality. Why study logic? Logic gives you principles and techniques to distinguish good forms of reasoning, helps you to construct correct arguments, and (to some extent) think orderly. Additionally, logic is essential in other fields that you might also be interested in studying (e.g., mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and analytic philosophy). And of course, logic is a fun and interesting subject in its own right. The course presumes no background in philosophy or logic. Prerequisites: None. Copy of the 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Matrix Algebra (L24 309)

An introductory course in linear algebra that focuses on Euclidean n-space, matrices and related computations.  Topics include: systems of linear equations, row reduction, matrix operations, determinants, linear independence, dimension, rank, change of basis, diagonalization, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, orthogonality, symmetric matrices, least square approximation, quadratic forms.  Introduction to abstract vector spaces. Prerequisite: Calculus II. Copy of 2022 syllabus is available here.

Time: MTWThF, 11:00am-12:45pm

Social Problems and Social Issues (L40 106)

This course explores and analyzes contemporary American social problems and social issues using sociological tools. The sociological perspective provides the overarching framework for analyses of social issues, along with the application of sociological theory and research. Topics include aging, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, violence, poverty, discrimination, health care, family, globalization, and environmental degradation. Prerequisites: None. 

Times: MTWThF, 9:00-10:45am

Topics in Banned Books From the Giver to the Lord of the Flies (L14 245)

In this course we will read a number of Young Adult novels that have been banned and examine what leads to the banning of a book. Why are YA novels particular targets of censorship, and why does society attempt to sanitize narratives about adolescence? The novels we will cover, by Toni Morrison, Stephen Chbosky, William Golding, and Lois Lowry, among others, have been banned in the United States on political, religious, sexual, or social grounds. We will gain insight into the controversies these novels started and also consider the themes and questions raised by the texts and their moral implications. In written assignments and class discussion, we will explore what, if anything, these novels have in common and what they may contribute to the study of literature. Students will be asked to engage critically with the texts they encounter and to hone their close reading skills while also considering historical and cultural contexts of the novels. Readings: "The Lord of the Flies," William Golding; "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Stephen Chbosky; "The Bluest Eye," Toni Morrison; "The Giver," Lois Lowry; "The House on Mango Street," Sandra Cisneros. Prerequisites: None. Copy of 2021 syllabus is available here.

Times: MTWThF, 1:00-2:45pm

Noncredit Exploration Courses

In addition to for credit course selections, students in the High School Summer Scholars Program have the option to "add-on" one of the following noncredit, online Exploration Courses:

  • Spandex, Spangles, and Stripes: Race, Gender, and the American Superhero
  • Case Studies in Biology: Climate and Health
  • The Biological Basis for Human Disease
  • Personal Narrative
  • What Should I Believe? Navigating Our World Through Fake News, Outsourcing Information, and Disagreement

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. Full course descriptions, dates, and additional information about these courses is available here. The cost to add-on an Exploration Course is $785 (a discounted rate for admitted High School Summer Scholars).

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