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Faculty Voices: Why Study in Florence?

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Keynote Address by Gerhard Casper

President Emeritus, Stanford University on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Stanford University’s Breyer Center for Overseas Studies in Florence in June, 2010.
Excerpt from "Why Stanford in Florence?"

“In the speed-oriented video and texting culture of our age, it seems to me to be of exceptional importance that students do not lose the 'arts of reading' (reading texts, pictures, sculptures, artifacts, buildings): to read, to read carefully (less is more), to reread, to read in dialogue, to interpret, to interpret in context. Through Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio the reading of art can be taught in a context that could not be more enticing to the human mind, eye, and heart.”

Professor David M. Kennedy

Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus

“Italy has more history, and more of it accessibly displayed, than any country in the world. And no Italian city has a richer stock of that visible history – not to mention an abundance of beauty and sheer enchantment – than Florence. My own studies in Florence as a Stanford undergraduate altered my sense of history itself, of time’s scale and weight. I also fell in love with a culture, a language, and a people in ways that have deeply affected my life ever since.”

Professor Mark Cutkosky

Fletcher Jones Chair II in the School of Engineering

“While many Stanford undergraduates take advantage of the Overseas Studies programs, relatively few in the School of Engineering consider Stanford's oldest campus in Florence. They should! Florence is the birthplace of the artist/engineer, a great place for students interested in subjects like Product Design to immerse themselves in a culture where no apology is made for the role of art in engineering and vice versa. The tradition continues today, with Ferrari, Lamborghini, and many other industries located a short train ride from the Florence campus, not to mention the fashion firms like Gucci and Ferragamo right in town.

And then there is the new campus in the Palazzo Capponi alle Rovinate, a 15th century palace beautifully restored for Stanford. With today's Internet access you can catch up on a core engineering course while taking local courses in surroundings that are simply inspirational."