Structured Liberal Education (Stanford University)

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Structured Liberal Education (SLE /sl/) is a program at Stanford University offering an alternative three-course sequence for freshmen to fulfill their Thinking Matters and Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) requirements. With a year-long schedule of eight units (formerly eight units in the fall and winter quarters, increasing to nine units in the spring quarter), SLE is unique in its intellectual rigor, multi-disciplinary approach, and residence-based structure.


Structured Liberal Education was the brainchild of Stanford history professor Mark Mancall, with political theorist Hannah Arendt as one of the original proponents of the program's enactment. In some respects, Stanford's SLE is comparable to other notable "Great Books" programs, such as Directed Studies at Yale University, the Liberal Arts Seminar at Georgetown University, the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the Core Curriculum at Columbia University, the Core Curriculum at the University of Chicago, the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College, the Arts One Program at the University of British Columbia, the curriculum at St. John's College, the Bachelor of Humanities program at Carleton University in Ottawa, and the curriculum at Shimer College in Chicago, with the distinction that the culturally diverse reading list at SLE reflects Mancall's scholarly interests in East Asia.


All SLE participants live, dine, and attend class in the same residence hall, Florence Moore (FloMo). As of 2013, they live in one of the three FloMo East houses: the all-freshman dorm, Alondra, which is made up of half SLE students and half non-SLE freshmen, and the two four-class dorms, Cardenal and Faisan.[1] Many of the upperclassmen in Cardenal and Faisan are former SLE students, which helps maintain an SLE community spanning the different years. In the main lounge of Florence Moore, known as the SLE lounge, students attend lectures given by professors within many departments at Stanford and by visiting guest lecturers. In addition, students participate in small-group sections, in which they discuss the lectures and assigned literature from SLE's extensive, diverse, and ever-evolving reading list. Films, often relating to the material of study, are screened weekly, and student-produced plays are regularly part of the syllabus. Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" is traditionally performed in the fall. SLE also provides freshman with intensive individual writing tutorials.


SLE is now under the auspices of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, which provides intellectual and academic support and is the base of many of the faculty who participate in the program. The administrative home of SLE is in the Residential Programs unit within the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Program directors[edit]

  • Mark Mancall - 1973--2007 - Professor of Modern History[2]
  • Roland Greene - 2007--2008 - Professor of English and Comparative Literature
  • Carolyn Lougee Chappell - 2008--2013 - Professor of Early Modern European History[3]
  • Joshua Landy - 2013--present - Professor of French and Comparative Literature


  1. ^ "About SLE". Structured Liberal Education. Stanford University. 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ "A conversation woth Stanford Professor of Modern History, Mark Mancall about Karl Marx". Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived September 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]