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Course Design Institute

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.

CDI is open to Stanford faculty and lecturers from all academic disciplines. Participants will apply current research on teaching and learning to the development of a syllabus or selected class material for their own Stanford course. The course design principles covered will apply to face-to-face as well as online instruction.

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

  • Articulate course learning goals
  • Generate course components, such as syllabi, assignments/assessments, rubrics, or planned class activities
  • Integrate research-based practices into course components
  • Align course design with principles of inclusive, equitable, and trauma-informed instruction

Academic Year 2020-2021 Key Dates

The CDI will be held online, at 2–4pm (Pacific time) from Tuesday, September 1 to Friday, September 4, 2020.

Some workshop components will consist of live Zoom sessions, and others will be completed on the participants’ own time, with an estimated time commitment of  3–4 hours per day. We are aware that participants will have a variety of commitments to manage, so we will do our best to accommodate the schedules of those accepted into the CDI. 

The deadline to apply is 5pm on Monday, August 3, 2020.

Application for faculty and lecturers

Perspectives from past participants

Natural Sciences

“As a starting faculty member I was passionate about teaching but didn’t really know what student­centered learning meant. The CDI helped me to identify key strategies I could use to improve my teaching, and I was able to improve student learning experiences and my evaluations! It was truly a game  ­changer for me.”

- Jose R. Dinneny, Associate Professor of Biology


“I decided to join CDI just two weeks after starting at Stanford as a junior faculty. I learned many useful teaching strategies, became aware of on­ campus resources available to Stanford instructors for improving their teaching, and the CDI turned out to be a great opportunity to meet my colleagues across the university who later become my friends and collaborators. For these reasons I recommend other interested faculty to join the CDI in the future.”

- Guosong Hong, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering


“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


For accommodations, questions, or other assistance, please contact Kritika Yegnashankaran at