Next fall, Stanford will expand its undergraduate residence offerings with a new humanities-themed dorm in Manzanita Park.
The dorm will house 125 sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as three scholars in residence. In addition to traditional dorm amenities, the dorm will boast a reading room, a music practice room and a creative workspace, according to Rodger Whitney, Executive Director of R&DE Student Housing and Chief Housing Officer.
Expected dorm programming ranges from student discussions with speakers from the Stanford Humanities Center to informal reading groups, according to Professor of French Dan Edelstein, who will serve as the dorm’s resident fellow.
The humanities dorm will also be the first major undergraduate residence to be built on campus in 20 years.
Edelstein called the dorm a “statement at the very heart of undergraduate culture,” explaining that he hopes the dorm will demonstrate the importance of the humanities in undergraduate education by bringing living and learning together.
“The humanities should not be segregated from our everyday experiences, from the way we conduct our lives,” Edelstein said. “There is a way in which talking about philosophy or gender studies connects you to life in a more immediate way than discussing hemoglobin might.”
Josh De Leon ’17, who applied to be a residential assistant in the dorm, hypothesized about the dorm’s potential to attract students from a variety of academic backgrounds in contrast with Structured Liberal Education (SLE), which requires students to take an eight-unit course load in the humanities.
As an international relations major and creative writing minor, De Leon related how creative writing, which he described as an activity that prioritizes subjectivity, better enabled him to understand others. He also highlighted the ability of a residential environment to foster cross-disciplinary discussions in the humanities.
“I’m not in medieval history, but I can take my international relations classes and they can take theirs, and we can come together in a shared space to enrich ourselves,” De Leon said. “No matter how brilliant you are at programming, or how effective you are as a CEO, there are related important aspects of the artistic and humanistic to understand.”
Edelstein also said that he hopes the dorm will generate conversations about the humanities among non-residents.
“[The dorm] is there to be a vibrant center for all students who are curious about and interested in the humanities,” Edelstein explained. “There’s still this stubborn impression of a techie-fuzzy divide that…doesn’t necessarily exist. The goal of a liberal education is precisely to cut across that divide.”