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GSE Students

Seth Trudeau

“The cohort is the secret sauce in LDT. There’s something really meaningful about going through an insane, intense year with 20 other people who are also going through the same insane intensity.”
GSE Program: 
MA program in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT)
Age: 
33 years old
Hometown: 
Columbus, OH
Degree(s): 
BA from University of Denver

Why Stanford?

The ethos of the university - the spirit of finding ways to make bold, ambitious things happen - carried a tremendous appeal for me. In the GSE specifically, I was attracted to its focus on education as a social issue and its commitment to authentic learning; I’ve never been in a place that’s more committed to developing the habits of lifelong learners.

What’s unusual about the LDT program?

LDT allows its students a remarkable amount of freedom in choosing courses from all across the university. For some in my cohort, that allowed them to have a laser like focus on one particular project they were passionate about. For me, it meant I could pursue a variety of projects that appealed to my broad interests. In addition to the GSE, I took classes in the schools of medicine, engineering, and business. That exposure allowed me to apply what I was learning about learning to many different domains.

Could you share a particular moment during LDT when you learned a lesson that will stay with you?

Near the end of the Design for Extreme Affordability course, at the tail end of one of a great many late nights, I said to my group, “I can’t remember the last time I thought about grades in this class.” One of them quickly chimed in, “Me either — I just want to make something great.” Ever since then, I have been convinced that public presentation mixed with meaningful projects is the secret to unlocking intrinsic motivation in students.

Was there time that you spent with a GSE professor that you’ll remember?

In Dan Schwartz’s Core Mechanics of Learning class, students design and run experiments as part of their final project; Dan had every group of students sit down with him for an hour to work through their ideas and really hone the process. That concentrated period of being exposed to the level of rigor and depth that he applies to his work gave me a lot to work with as I test and evaluate my own work in the future.

Seth Trudeau

Tell us about the other students in your LDT class.

The cohort is the secret sauce in LDT. There’s something really meaningful about going through an insane, intense year with 20 other people who are also going through the same insane intensity. And, for me, seeing such brilliant people who are so deeply dedicated to creating great educational tools and reaching the learners who are most in need has been profoundly inspiring.

What do you do to relax and have fun outside of school?

I have two children — a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I never relax (or sleep), but I am constantly having fun. In a lot of ways, they’re like my laboratory for how I think about learning and development.

What are your career plans?

I am joining the founding team at African Leadership Unleashed, designing a 21st-century university for developing great African leaders who will transform the African continent.  I’ll be overseeing product development, both the curriculum and the way our students engage with it.  

Any tips for incoming students?

I’d recommend that incoming students just constantly seek out new opportunities. Basically, say yes to just about anything until you find that you really can’t do any more, and only then start saying no. Find events outside of class, take advantage of shopping weeks to look into classes you wouldn’t normally consider.