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Course Design Institute

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The Course Design Institute (CDI) is an annual program that provides faculty and lecturers with a collaborative environment in which to design a new course, or modify an existing course, optimized for student inclusion, learning, and engagement.

People having discussion around table

CDI participants will apply current research on teaching and learning to the development of a syllabus or selected class materials for their own Stanford course. 

By the end of the Course Design Institute, participants will:

  • Articulate course learning goals
  • Develop course components, such as syllabi and lesson plans 
  • Integrate research-based practices into course components
  • Align course design with principles of inclusive and equitable instruction

CDI is open to Stanford faculty and lecturers from all academic disciplines. Those in their first three years of teaching at Stanford will benefit most, though aspects of CDI may also be useful to seasoned instructors who would appreciate teaching support or who are taking on a new or substantially revised course project.

Academic Year 2024–2025 Key Dates

The CDI will be held in person, on campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, September 4 through Friday, September 6, 2024.

Sessions will be highly interactive and will include time for participants to work on their course materials in the company of colleagues and with the guidance of CTL staff. Since space in the CDI is limited, attendance for the complete time on all three days is expected from those admitted. However, we are aware that participants will have a variety of commitments to manage, so those who have strong reasons to participate but who anticipate conflicts should indicate as much in their applications. We will do our best to work with those admitted to ensure they have a fruitful experience.

Apply for CDI

We are now accepting applications for CDI 2024. Please click the button below to proceed to the application. 

Apply for CDI

Applications are due on July 8 at 5 p.m. PT. Interested instructors who have missed the application due date are encouraged to contact Kenny Ligda, associate director of Faculty and Lecturer Programs, at


For accommodations, questions, or other assistance, please contact Kenny Ligda at

Learn more about CDI

In this short video, CTL staff and former attendees talk about the aims and student-centered approaches of CDI, and outline the benefits for instructors' courses and teaching experiences.

CTL staff and former attendees discuss CDI

CDI+ series open to CDI alumni

CDI+ is a continuation of CDI that runs as an optional series during the academic year and is open to all CDI alumni. Typically two sessions per quarter are organized, spanning a range of topics on effective teaching and learning. Instructors who participate in CDI+ can:

  • Deepen effective course design through consideration and discussion of teaching practice
  • Integrate research-based practices from learning science and the scholarship of teaching and learning into their classroom instruction
  • Acquire the resources to encourage and build community around effective teaching and learning at Stanford

Explore topics and resources from past CDI+ sessions

Perspectives from past participants


“As a new faculty member, preparing that first syllabus can be daunting. I wanted to make sure I got it right, and participating in the Course Design Institute was just the feedback process I needed to ensure I was headed in the right direction. CDI hosted a diverse mix of teaching experts and faculty at all levels (junior-senior), from all departments, whose reflections, advice, and constructive feedback helped me develop an impactful course for years to come. My favorite activity involved a syllabus review conducted by one of the students from CTL—she was extremely helpful in ensuring that my syllabus was inclusive and made sense for students. I would highly recommend all new faculty to participate in CDI when preparing their first courses.”

— Khalid Osman, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Physical Sciences

“The CDI was a wonderful opportunity to think deeply about pedagogy and to learn from colleagues across a diverse array of disciplines. My colleagues, the experienced CTL team, and the time and space afforded by the CDI were all invaluable. I highly recommend the experience!”

—Susan Clark, assistant professor of Physics


“I used CDI to develop a required survey course (one I was kind of dreading), and ended up turning it into a show piece that I'm really proud of. The biggest takeaway was help developing big­ picture goals and then clarifying how they should manifest in all aspects of the course. The best part about doing CDI in my first year at Stanford was having an intensive shared experience with other faculty members, many of whom are now good friends! Just got a student email today: 'I'm enjoying your class so much so far. Studying this material is exactly what I want my Stanford education to look like'.”

—Roanne Kantor, assistant professor of English

Social Sciences

“I had never taught a course before participating in the Course Development Institute. The CDI helped me to think deeply about what I want my students to get out of my class, and how I can best make that happen. Learning about modern teaching technologies, such as Poll Everywhere, was extremely helpful. With this tool I was able to elicit feedback from students throughout the course and flexibly adapt the course to the students' needs and ideas.”

—Tobias Gerstenberg, assistant professor of Psychology