Thirty fortunate undergraduates may find themselves working and taking classes in New York City through a University pilot program in spring quarter of 2015, as plans for a new Stanford in New York City program continue to take shape.
While the proposal is currently still in the initial planning stages, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam depicted the potential program’s structure as analogous to the popular Stanford in Washington program, where students work as interns during the day and take classes at night.
The foci of the two programs, however, would be wildly different — while Stanford in Washington focuses on policy internships and coursework, Stanford in New York City will focus on the arts.
“What the Stanford in Washington program does is take advantage of the city that it’s in, the context that is Washington, so it makes sense that it’s devoted to policy,” Elam said. “Similarly, we want to take advantage of all that New York has to offer.”
Elam cited the prominence of financial institutions, art programs, media outlets and urban development organizations within New York City as offering students unique opportunities to work for companies centered on their interests.
“If you’re a dancer, getting an internship where you actually get to dance with Alvin Ailey is unlikely,” Elam said. “You could be a dancer and work with booking…or administrative concerns, and so be a part of the company in a way that gives you insight into how it operates. We want these internships to be meaningful.”
Evening classes would similarly focus on the arts, economics and urban studies.
“What I’m imagining now is that the courses will all cohere around the notion of creative entrepreneurship and how you can interpret that in different ways,” Elam said. “The work they’ll do will have a lot to do with that too—it can teach you how you can make a living as an artist.”
Sammi Cannold ‘16, a drama and history double major, expressed “tremendous interest” in being a part of the pilot group.
“I hang out with a lot of artsy students, and I know that a lot of us want to get our feet in the door and explore the opportunities New York has to offer,” Cannold, who also serves as artistic director of student musical theater group At the Fountain Theatricals, said.
While a previous University effort to establish an academic program in New York – in the form of an applied sciences and engineering campus – was ultimately unsuccessful, Elam emphasized that the new proposal has no connection, beyond general interest in New York towards collaborating with Stanford, to the previous effort.
“The purpose of the competition was to promote the idea of Silicon Valley in New York,” Elam said. “But when Stanford dropped out, many people still wanted us to have some sort of presence in New York.”
Elam expressed hope that the pilot would take place in either the spring or summer of 2015, with participants completing a written application in spring quarter and an interview in fall quarter of 2014, and said that he will write up a more detailed proposal in the fall after getting “a sense of what the idea of creative entrepreneurship will mean.”
However, whether the program will reach the pilot stage remains uncertain.
“We’re not sure that this is going to happen, but we’re exploring the possibilities,” Elam said. “What I hope is that we can create a really exciting program that draws both students and faculty and adds to the whole experience of being at Stanford.”