Stanford Seeks 20 Top Leaders for New 'Transformative' Careers Institute

The new yearlong program will offer career-established participants -- spouses and partners -- access to Stanford's innovative, entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary learning environment.

Philip Pizzo, former dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, will lead the new Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute. (Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)
Philip Pizzo, former dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, will lead the new Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute. (Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)



Stanford has created a new yearlong program to give highly accomplished leaders from the public and private sectors the opportunity to reflect on their life journeys, explore new pathways and redirect or deepen their lives for the common good.

The Stanford Distinguished Career Institute (DCI), which will open in January 2015, will give 20 participants access to Stanford's innovative, entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary learning environment, including faculty scholars, classes and courses in all seven schools, and programs in dozens of campus institutes and centers.

Stanford is seeking applicants with 20- to 30-year histories of significant achievement who are eager to join their peers for a program of personal renewal, intellectual exploration, physical recalibration and societal engagement.

Philip Pizzo, founding director of DCI and former dean of Stanford Medical School, said the institute will serve as a transition to new ventures for participants, allowing them to build on their life experiences to create something unique that will improve themselves and the world.

"The new way forward that emerges from participating in the institute can be one long-anticipated and hoped for, or one not yet imagined," Pizzo said.

The institute is a partnership with the Stanford Center on Longevity, whose mission is to redesign long life.

"A growing body of research suggests that health and satisfaction in the second half of life are critically tied to education and engagement, yet the current social norms that guide us through life limit education largely to youth," said Laura Carstensen, the longevity center's director.

DCI fellows will have the opportunity to audit classes and courses throughout Stanford, and each one will have an assigned faculty adviser, said Pizzo, who also is the David and Susan Heckerman professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford.

Fellows will participate in a core program that includes weekly discussion seminars with faculty on a broad range of topics, and weekly receptions, in which fellows share lessons learned throughout their lives and consider issues of life transitions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

The program will include think tanks – one- to two-day meetings – on key social and intellectual issues. Potential topics for 2015 include: The Human Brain and Behavior Across the Life Journey; The Transition to Sustainability; The Societal and Ethical Impacts of Newly Emerging Technologies; and The Widening Economic Gap in the United States.

With the help of faculty, each DCI fellow will develop a personalized "scholarly pathway" designed to help him or her achieve goals.

Pizzo said more three dozen Stanford interdisciplinary programs have enthusiastically agreed to engage with DCI fellows, including the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, the Center for Law and the Biosciences, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and many programs at Stanford Medical School. Fellows may join the programs as observers or participants, with the approval of faculty members.

Monthly dinner soirées will be held with faculty scholars, as well as leaders from the broader Stanford and Silicon Valley communities.

To promote future longevity and success, each fellow will have the opportunity for a personal health assessment, including a health, exercise and personal well-being plan.

The program will emphasize community building by offering dedicated office space on campus that facilitates networking among fellows with each other and with Stanford faculty, students and staff. The program will encourage interactions with undergraduate and graduate students in research, academic and service projects that foster intergenerational learning.

Spouses and partners of the fellows also will be eligible to participate in the program. 

Applications for the inaugural class of fellows are available on the institute's website and are now being accepted.

This article can be viewed in full via Stanford News Service online.



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