Fall Quarter: Letter from the Director
As many of you may know, this fall marks a historic moment for Stanford as the university opens its first new school in more than 70 years. With nearly $1.7 billion of philanthropic funding behind it, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability represents an ambitious interdisciplinary effort to understand and address the global climate crisis. It also reflects the deep commitment individuals, and our community at large, have made to protect our planet and the environment for future generations.
To help celebrate its launch, Continuing Studies and the Stanford Office of External Relations will cohost a free “Discover Stanford for You” webinar, featuring the school’s Sustainability Accelerator. And in partnership with Doerr’s faculty and leadership, we also hope to bring to our Continuing Studies audience a version of the Stanford Graduate Summer Institute course “Exploring Planetary Stewardship: Sustainability Solutions in a Rapidly Changing World.”
In recent years, and particularly at this moment, the Continuing Studies team and I have been reflecting on steps we can take to more closely align ourselves with Stanford’s environmental and sustainability goals. To this end, we have created a new section in our catalog with a focus on climate change and sustainability as we continue to expand our course offerings around this important topic. We are grateful to Michael McWilliams, Stanford professor of geological and environmental sciences, emeritus, for the powerful new courses he is teaching with us, including “Earth: Revolutionary Ideas about Our Planet’s Past, Present, and Future” and, offered this fall, “Climate Change in Context: What Does the Past Tell Us about the Future?” We also want to thank climate scientist Marina Oster, who has taught courses such as “Solving Climate Change: Pathways for Sustainable Change” for many years, and Belinda Ramírez, who taught “The Cultures of Climate Justice” this past summer.
Another significant change Continuing Studies will make this year includes bringing to a close our long-standing tradition of publishing beautiful, book-form print catalogs. This decision has been deeply bittersweet for all of us at Continuing Studies, as I’m sure it may be for some of you. To this day, there are few things I enjoy more than wandering the aisles of bookstores or sitting for long hours in the afternoon to read, and for that, I will always prefer a printed, paper book.
I can also say that one of the greatest joys of taking the helm at Continuing Studies has been working with our staff and our very talented designers at Madeleine Corson Design to put together the images and text we hope will inspire you to take a closer look inside our catalogs, flip through the pages, and read about the courses we’ve developed each quarter. You will find on my bookshelves a copy of every catalog I have worked on since joining the program in 2018.
But these days, it feels important to be mindful of exactly how much paper we use, and the environmental and monetary cost of printing and mailing our catalogs is substantial. When I first arrived at Continuing Studies, we printed and distributed 32,500 catalogs each quarter. This amounts to 3,300,000 pages of paper, weighing roughly 22,000 pounds. It is sobering to imagine what this must translate to in terms of trees felled and energy lost to paper mills, packaging, and delivery. In recent years, we’ve reduced our print runs to roughly one-quarter of that amount, and still we know the cost to the environment is too high. If we wish to be conscientious and thoughtful stewards of our planet, we know it is these everyday changes and small sacrifices we need to commit to, and we thank you all for supporting us in making this transition.
We will run one last print catalog this winter and in the quarters that follow will transition to creating a full-color digital catalog, which we will send by email and share on our website. For now, we will also be sending printed postcards through the mail as a gentle reminder of this transition and to announce the launch of each quarter’s registration. We will also be pulling together a technology and design team to update and enhance our website to make it easier for visitors to parse our course offerings and find the right fit. Please also consider signing up for our email list so we can keep you apprised of upcoming course offerings and webinars. You can find the link on our website homepage.
As always, I’d like to close by highlighting a few courses we’re excited about that I hope you’ll consider exploring. Jim Steyer is returning with another extraordinary lineup of politicians and thought leaders who will join him in conversation for “Politics 2022: America at a Crossroads.” You might also enjoy “19th-Century Gothic Novels: Frankenstein and Dracula,” taught by Rebecca Richardson, or long-time instructor Diane Zuliani’s course on “Iconic Artworks of the Renaissance.” We hope you have a wonderful start to the Fall Quarter and the new academic year, and we look forward to seeing you in class.
Director & Associate Dean