New campus tour highlights Stanford humanities and arts

Oct. 15, 2015, 12:07 a.m.
Tour guide Kyle Efken '17 introduces visitors to the Cantor Arts Center. (NINA ZUBRILINA/The Stanford Daily)
Tour guide Kyle Efken ’17 introduces visitors to the Cantor Arts Center. (NINA ZUBRILINA/The Stanford Daily)

A new student-led tour aims to focus on a particular area of Stanford’s academic life: humanities and the arts. The hour-long Humanities and Arts Tour brings participants to arts-focused sites on campus, including the Cantor Arts Center, Rodin Sculpture Garden and the new 100,000 square foot McMurtry building, home of the Department of Art & Art History.

DJ Dull-MacKenzie, director of visitor relations, said that the tour is an element of the University’s efforts “to raise the prominence and visibility of our programs in the humanities and arts.”

The tours, which began in May, are offered on Wednesdays at noon during the fall quarter.

They tend to attract fewer participants than general campus tours that occur daily. Smaller groups, often around ten people, provide a more intimate experience and allow more time for questions and conversation than a typical tour.

“It’s cool because usually you will get families of a couple of people, but then you will also get individuals who are very interested in things going on [at Stanford],” said Kyle Efken ’17, a tour guide since the program’s inception last spring.

While the new tours, like the regular campus tours, evoke conversation about the time capsules buried in the Main Quad or the childhood of Leland Stanford Jr.’s childhood, the focus remains unique to Stanford’s humanities and arts community.

In his tours, Efken discusses grant opportunities available for humanities students, overviews academic requirements for related majors and explains residence-based programs like Structured Liberal Education that integrates humanities studies into a specific dorm experience.

The tours have attracted prospective students with a particular interest in the arts and humanities. Meghan Marshall, a prospective undergraduate from Arizona, was drawn to the tour because of her musical background and interest in performing as a career. She enjoyed learning about the arts while getting a sense of the school.

“I just like seeing the campus, the character of the buildings and the people,” Marshall said.

Tour guide Liz Knarr ’16 enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for the humanities and arts on campus.

Sharing that experience with them is the best part of my job – I get to let them know why it so wonderful to be an artist and humanist at Stanford,” Knarr said in an email to The Daily.

According to Knarr, studying arts and humanities helps develop the conscientious and critical thinking necessary to become a globally engaged citizen.

Dull-MacKenzie echoed that sentiment and highlighted the effect of humanities and arts programs to promote “learning to think creatively and critically, to reason and to ask questions.”

“These are key intellectual abilities and attributes that are directly applicable to virtually all aspects of society,” Dull-MacKenzie said.

“Studying the arts has taught me teamwork, accountability, leadership, and initiative – skills that, for me, would not have been developed if I were sitting in front of a computer all day,” Knarr added.


Contact Michael Craig May at mmay20 ‘at’

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