Spring Quarter: Letter from the Director
As we look ahead to Spring, I suspect we are all feeling hopeful that this will be a time for renewal, in which we can begin to heal from the many losses brought on by the pandemic, and that with the distribution of vaccines under way, it will soon be safer and easier to connect again with family, friends, and loved ones. I also hope this will be a new season for politics, in which we can begin to bridge the dividing lines, return our focus to what matters most for the collective good, and find fresh optimism and faith in the strength of our institutions.
Last Fall, this sentiment echoed through our “Election 2020” course as when Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey offered this advice: “We tend to look at the big things, the big fight, but I’m telling you right now, the biggest thing you can do in any day, most often, is going to be a small act of kindness, decency, and grace, especially extended to someone who is in a different circumstance than your own.” I know that all of us at Continuing Studies felt honored and grateful for the chance to support James Steyer and Pamela Karlan in hosting what may well have been the most prestigious lineup of political guest speakers in our program’s history, including California Governor Gavin Newsom and former president Bill Clinton. And in doing so, I hope we made our own small contribution in helping to usher in a more compassionate dialogue around what binds us all as citizens.
With CSP courses remaining virtual for yet another Spring, and our staff continuing to work remotely, we miss being able to gather on Stanford’s beautiful campus and see one another face-to-face. But if there is an upside, it is that being distanced has encouraged us to seek out new ways to connect and partner with the many talented people and groups who also call Stanford home. We have been thrilled to add to our Art Studio instructor roster three emerging artists who are alumni of Stanford’s Art Practice MFA program—Natani Notah, Brett Amory, and Shirin Towfiq—and have been admiring their fresh takes on portraiture, oil painting, and alternative photography. We were also excited to partner with the Stanford Office of External Relations in sponsoring the free virtual live event, “Discover Stanford For You,” which offers audiences an opportunity to learn about Stanford’s mission, research, and global impact. The February event—which we hope will be the first of many—features talks by Stanford faculty Chris Field and Yvonne “Bonnie” Maldonado and highlights emerging research and innovations for addressing climate change and COVID-19.
This idea that small actions, taken together, can help make a lasting difference over time is helping to shape our course planning now more than ever. This past Winter, we continued to reflect on social justice issues through courses like Stanford lecturer Andy Hammann’s course “Black Activists and the Fight Against Slavery,” and this Spring will mark the first time our program is offering a course on the history of women’s reproductive rights (taught by Stanford lecturer Margo Horn). We also think this is the ideal season to introduce Stanford neurologist Antoine de Morrée’s new course, “Building Resilience,” which draws on research into meditation techniques practiced by monks and their impact on the brain.
Wishing you all a restful and rejuvenating Spring and hope to see you in class!!
Director & Associate Dean