Stanford University

News Service


NEWS RELEASE

11/27/01

Meredith Alexander, News Service (650) 725-0224; e-mail mfa@stanford.edu

Environmental program reunion showcases the rewards of interdisciplinary study

One is developing zero-emissions vehicles; one has advised the government on marine conservation; one founded a bicycle company; another practices environmental law. All four of these recent graduates have one thing in common: They are alumni of Stanford's Goldman Honors Program in Environmental Science, Technology and Policy.

This weekend, dozens of students who participated in the program as undergraduates will gather for its first-ever reunion.

Students and professors, including the program's founding director, Rosamond "Roz" Naylor, senior fellow at the Institute for International Studies, plan to convene on campus Thursday. That afternoon, they will attend a lecture that is open to the public: Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt will present the Robert Minge Brown Lecture at Kresge Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. His talk is titled "An Environmental Agenda for the 21st Century."

On Friday, the group will hear Robert Grady, managing director of Carlyle Venture Partners, speak on "The Environment in Politics" from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Bechtel Conference Center in Encina Hall.

The following day, the group plans to honor President Emeritus Donald Kennedy, the Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Emeritus, who helped get the program rolling in 1992.

Around 60 out of 100 program graduates plan to attend the reunion, says Naylor, who still heads the program.

A panel of faculty members selects top undergraduates from the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Engineering and Earth Sciences to participate in the Goldman program each year. Students apply in their junior year and face intense competition for the few available positions around 10 to 12 in the interschool honors program. They come to the program from majors as diverse as Ethics in Society and Feminist Studies, although many arrive via Earth Systems.

In their senior year, as they work on their theses in the field, the students attend small seminars taught by a handful of professors from a range of disciplines.

Naylor believes that one of the best things about the program which is named for the San Francisco Goldman family that provided the funding is the commitment of the faculty to teach these students and to engage in debates with each other. "Five or six faculty regularly attend the class because they like to be involved," Naylor said. "You'd be hard-pressed to find more faculty involvement anywhere else on campus."

Naylor credits Kennedy for being instrumental in getting the program going.

"I'm both thrilled that we're going to get these people together and I'm delighted to be the excuse for it but the real reason is the reunion," said Kennedy, who officially retired this summer and is tapering off his involvement in the program in order to focus on being editor of the magazine Science.

What Kennedy says he most admires about the program is the way it has affected the lives of its graduates.

"One of the things you look at when deciding whether you're adding value is the way in which the students who've gone through the program carry out the themes and values of the program in their own lives," Kennedy said. And clearly, students are profiting: Many of them have gone into environmental careers, as evidenced by the biography book that Naylor has put together. Michael Brylawski, '94, for example, has spent years working to commercialize low-emissions vehicles. His company's concept sport-utility vehicle, the Revolution, gets 99 miles per gallon with zero emissions.

Naylor and Kennedy also applaud the fact that the program has served as a model for newer interdisciplinary studies programs launched at Stanford.

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By Meredith Alexander

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