Experience how the arts thrive at Stanford! Participants come together for a three-week intensive arts program offering academically challenging, interdisciplinary courses in architecture, visual design, and music. 

Unlock your creativity at Stanford. Stanford is well-known as a destination for math and science—but Stanford is also a hub of innovation in the arts, with a rich tradition of excellence in music, architecture, writing, and design.

Stanford Summer Arts Institute offers four courses that emphasize the essential connections between the arts and other areas of study. Through lectures, guest workshops, and hands-on projects, participants dive deep into an advanced course topic exploring the urban environment, design thinking, user psychology, and more. Students do not need an arts background to participate. 

Courses Offered Summer 2018

Why Music Matters
This course is an intensive exploration of the inner workings of music from many different perspectives across a wide span of time: music theory and history, cultural history, and music technology. Students will learn to listen critically to a range of music, both classical and popular, and gain analytical skills to probe how a piece of music is composed. Students will be given opportunities to create and perform their own compositions. Participants will also have a special opportunity to attend live performances and discussions with the world-famous St. Lawrence String Quartet, as well as guest performers of jazz and world music. The course will culminate in a final project of student compositions, performance, and/or analysis of music.

Architecture and the City
This course will introduce students to the inspiring field of architecture. We will take its definition broadly to allow for an expansive journey from the planning of entire cities to the design of buildings to the engineering of structural and mechanical systems. We will also practice a process of creative problem-solving which combines design, art, engineering, and science, as well as principles of sustainability and ethics. We will draw no boundaries around the scope of architecture, neither in its content nor its process. Students will be expected to move rapidly between different scales, media, and tools to complete a series of increasingly challenging projects. The end goal is that students will have gained not just an awareness and appreciation of how architecture permeates every aspect of their built environment, but a practice of visual thinking and tactile doing which can be applied to almost any problem of their choice—in essence, the tools to become architects of their own futures.

Music, Technology, and Culture
Students will learn to analyze popular music by considering cultures of listening, technological innovations, and social structures attached to musical genres and communities. With an emphasis on understanding the way that music and its technologies are used to create meaning, students will examine global practices of hearing and listening to music and visual media (i.e. cinema, television) while also considering the history and evolution of the technologies that have shaped music and modes of listening over the past 100 years. Students will leave the class understanding how popular music and its technologies reflect and influence social and cultural attitudes surrounding race, class, gender, and sexuality. Through listening, reading, lectures, attending concerts, guest speakers, and hands-on demonstrations, students will explore topics such as: listening, genre, performance, and authenticity; Hollywood film scoring practices and music supervision; and technological innovations in music production and distribution such as digital audio workstations, synthesizers, and MP3s. The course will culminate in a final creative/analytical project that reflects upon the themes that are covered in class. Prior experience in music is not required.

Applied Visual Arts: Product Design
How do artists work, and how does an individual expand his or her creative potential, to move from observer to maker? In this course, students will develop the artistic awareness, personal aptitudes, and creative skills that serve as the foundation for the design process in a collaborative context. Students develop their own design sensibilities and visual thinking skills; they learn the processes and principles of design, how to approach problems collaboratively through visual design thinking, and how to apply design tools (such as CAD, Photoshop, and Illustrator) to prototype ideas using an iterative process and ultimately build physical prototypes. Field trips and guest speakers from the world of visual and product design expose students to the broader context around them, developing their awareness of how everything is a product of a design process. This hands-on, highly interactive course requires no previous art experience and welcomes those with interests in creativity, innovation, design, and engineering.

Cost and Session Information

Stanford Summer Arts Institute seeks intellectually curious and motivated students in grades 9 through 11 with a record of achievement inside and outside the classroom, and a passion for the arts.

Program Dates

  • Session One: June 25, 2018 - July 14, 2018
  • Session Two: July 17, 2018 - August 4, 2018

Financial Aid is Available
The Admission Committee reviews all complete applications. Aid is granted based upon need, as well as other factors including merit. Members of traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Students who wish to be considered for both partial and full scholarships should submit a complete online financial aid application and all required income documentation. Please provide within a week of submitting the application.

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