A new partnership between Stanford and the City College of New York (CCNY) has resulted in a cross-country exchange of students and ideas.
The collaboration aims to promote graduate-level humanities research among minority and first-generation college students. Through the exchange program, three Stanford graduate students are currently teaching classes at CCNY, a position granting them access to a city considered one of the world’s centers for humanities research, said Lanier Anderson, exchange program director and an associate professor of philosophy.
Ten CCNY undergraduate students were selected to conduct their own research this past summer under the guidance of a Stanford professor on campus.
The idea for the program arose after Stanford withdrew its application to build an applied sciences center in New York City, Anderson said.
“Because of the centrality of NYC as a center for a lot of humanistic inquiry—it was thought that there was really an opportunity to benefit the humanities and arts at Stanford by having some role in the New York initiative in general to realize those benefits,” Anderson said.
CCNY and Stanford are sharing the program’s costs.
At Stanford, the program is funded by the Office of the Provost, said Humanities and Arts Initiatives Coordinator Katie McDonough M.A. ‘09 Ph.D. ‘13.
“It’s offering a sustained relationship between two schools that doesn’t occur in any other sort of program,” McDonough said.
CCNY students get a taste of residential learning on the Farm
While the program works with the School of Humanities and Sciences’ Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP)—which adopts a similar goal of promoting research among groups underrepresented in all research areas—the partnership with CCNY also strives to build a sense of community, a task that is hard to accomplish under the multi-institutional structure of the SR-EIP program, according to Anderson.
“One thing that [CCNY] students don’t get is an experience of living in a residential university community, where you’re surrounded all the time with people engaged by scholarship and study,” said Blake Francis Ph.D. ‘15, program coordinator and doctoral student in philosophy.
“Most the students there are from New York, and stay in the same apartment or house when they head to school,” Francis added.
Social activities, such as pizza parties and movie nights, were planned for CCNY students over the summer at Stanford to help them bond with each other and be part of a larger community.
Derek Vanderpool M.A. ‘07 Ph.D. ‘14, a writing tutor for the summer program and a graduate student in history, noted the diversity of the students from CCNY.
“There was a level of diversity that we don’t have here at Stanford. They brought different perspectives and different questions,” Vanderpool said. “There was a student that was looking at the issue of bilingual education from a legal perspective, and he tied it to his own personal background, which was very interesting to me.”
However, Vanderpool added that the CCNY students and Stanford peers have more in common than they do differences.
City impacts Stanford graduate students’ research
As part of the exchange, three Stanford graduate students in the humanities—two studying English and one studying philosophy—are currently teaching at CCNY.
According to Arezoo Islami Ph.D. ‘14, a Stanford philosophy graduate student teaching at CCNY this quarter, the classes that she is auditing have influenced her research ideas.
“Some of the classes I’m taking are questioning the assumptions which my dissertation is based on,” Islami said. “And that’s amazing—it’s magical—to look at the whole project from a different point of view.”
Simply being in New York City may also change students’ approaches to research.
“One might think that how and where they live is independent of their research, saying, ‘You can do research anywhere you want,’” Islami said. “I don’t think that’s true. I think the movement opens up our mental space. And New York City and this college are very diverse places with very diverse ideas.”
Contact Max Wang at maxwang7 ‘at’ stanford.edu.