Crothers plans for first year as global citizenship dorm

Sept. 21, 2010, 2:03 a.m.

Crothers Memorial Hall joins the ranks of themed dorms this year as a “global citizenship”-focused dorm. It aims to foster a community of students interested in global issues and, according to its website, help its residents “reflect upon, and engage with, key challenges of globalization and interdependence.”

The idea for the theme started last January, when Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) Coit Blacker started discussing the idea of a dorm focused on global issues. Crothers Resident Fellows Stephen Stedman ‘79 M.A. ‘85 Ph.D. ‘88 and his wife, Corinne Thomas, successfully applied for Crothers to take on that theme. Stedman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and FSI. Thomas advises Stanford in Government.

The dorm will be formally tied to FSI, which will work with Crothers to create opportunities where students can meet and learn from faculty, experts and visitors to campus. Some of the speakers this fall will include John Prendergast, a prominent anti-genocide figure and co-founder of the Enough Project, and Carlos Pascual ’80, the current U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Besides talks by professors and other guests, students also can work closely with faculty through the Crothers Fellow Program. There are 14 fellows, including Larry Diamond ‘73 M.A. ‘78 Ph.D. ‘80, director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law; law professor Tino Cuellar M.A. ‘96 Ph.D. ‘00, who has served in the Obama and Clinton Administrations; and history professor David Kennedy ‘63. The fellows will attend special faculty-student dinners hosted by the RFs and interact closely with Crothers theme residents.

In addition to the star-studded cast of fellows, students are encouraged to initiate programming, such as student-led courses, debates on international policy issues or international film screenings. Resident Stephanie Liou ’13, who pre-assigned to Crothers, said that was something that attracted her to the dorm.

“It’s the first year, so we can essentially make it what it is, so that was appealing,” she said.

Indeed, Stedman believes these student-led programs and student participation will be key to the residents’ experience in the dorm.

“Whether or not this succeeds will depend on the residents and what they’re willing to put into it,” he said.

“We’re going to go out of our way to give them the resources to do a lot of interesting things, so it’s really up to them to take advantage of it and show some initiative,” he added.

Stedman believes that the creation of a global citizenship-themed dorm is in line with Stanford’s vision.

“I think it all has to do with Stanford’s aspirations to be a global university and a global leader,” he said. “It goes to the heart of the Stanford initiative and the fact that President Hennessy made international issues very prominent in terms of the University’s mission. What he [wants] is for Stanford to take a leading role in solving global problems… what better way for undergraduates to get involved and think and debate policy issues than to build a house like this?”

In addition to extensive programming, the dorm is also particularly well staffed. Besides the fellows, there are four academic theme associates, two juniors and two seniors whose studies have focused on international issues and who will assist with the dorm’s programs. There is also a graduate resident academic mentor, Justine Isola, who is a second-year graduate student in the International Policy Studies master’s program.

Many of the students in Crothers are not international relations students but believe that participating in the themed programs will supplement their education.

“Global citizenship is not necessarily something I’ve been involved with so I felt like it might add something different to my Stanford education that otherwise wouldn’t have happened,” Liou said.

“I thought it would be fun to do stuff outside of my major,” said management science and engineering major Agnes Omega ’12. “I’ve always been interested in global issues and stuff, so if I could figure out a way to force me to learn about them, I’m down for that.”

Caity Monroe contributed to this report.

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