Throughout the year, as part of its broader programming, OpenXChange will introduce and promote community conversations on issues of global and national concern as well as those closer to home. A university changes the world primarily through the knowledge it discovers and the future citizens it educates. How it should approach these tasks will also be a crucial part of the conversation. Where, for example, are the lines for a scholar or teacher between research, sharing information and analyses based on that research, and advocacy or activism? How can student develop a sense of personal and social responsibility while negotiating between academic knowledge and practical application?
Stanford and the World
The fall quarter will explore challenges that face all of us as global citizens, as well as the role of the university as an institution in the world. Specific questions and themes of international import will be explored, including whether institutional divestment from fossil fuels is the right strategy to address global warming. We will look at where and how Stanford invests its resources and energy, as Jane Stanford put it, “on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Additionally, we will explore what it might mean to be a global university or to prepare students for global citizenship. How can we translate research into advances in international affairs, and what knowledge and capacities do students need to contribute positively to the world?
Stanford and the Nation
In the winter, OpenXChange activities will focus on national issues such as the criminal justice system, narrowing our scope from the world to the United States and its challenges. As an American university, Stanford is situated within the nation’s social, economic, political, and environmental context and bears a special responsibility to help change these for the better through its research and teaching. Because the national is inextricably linked to the global and the local, how do we determine the correct lens and focal length to use on a given topic, and how do we help students develop the capacity to zoom in and out as needed?
Stanford and our Community
Finally, the spring quarter will address questions closer to home such as sexual assault and racial inequality on our campus and in our local community. How does our campus build a common bond and also strengthen and embrace the multiple communities within it? How can we call all students into the discussion, while not shying away from difficult issues and being respectful of diverse voices and experiences? For instance, we may also explore what special obligations and debts Stanford owes to its neighbors on the Peninsula or to California. Stanford played a key role in the founding and development of Silicon Valley; how are we or should we now be intertwined with the business and social ecosystem Stanford helped to create?