The Stanford campus has Roman architecture

A long night on Stanford University"The wind of freedom blows"

The small town of Palo Alto, to which the campus borders, can be described as the geographical gateway to the valley of semiconductor technology - and Stanford itself as the scientific and intellectual source, without which the impressive development of the region over the past 50 years can hardly be described would have been possible.

The campus called "Farm" with its Beaux Arts buildings, the arcades made of yellow sandstone, reminiscent of Californian mission stations, and the red roofs do not correspond at all to the image of today's IT headquarters architecture. The German motto of the university, "The air of freedom blows", which is fixed in Stanford's seal, also refers to Humboldt’s demand for freedom of teaching and learning, which the Stanford founders tried to realize.

An old European impulse, one could say, thus stands at the beginning of the university that today represents the new world like no other and yet remains an institution between Humboldt and Silicon Valley.

David Starr Jordan, the university's first president, in a 1913 letter

"These arcades made of yellow sandstone, together with the red tile roofs against the azure blue sky, create a picture that you will never forget and that in itself must be regarded as an integral part of the special Stanford educational experience."

In accordance with Wilhelm von Humboldt's ideal of combining research and teaching in the university, Stanford was not supposed to be a liberal arts college, not a mere academic school, as had been established in the USA around 1900. Knowledge should be generated here, not just communicated. An old European impulse, one could say, thus stands at the beginning of the university that today stands for the new of the 'New World' like no other and yet remains an institution between Humboldt and Silicon Valley. In the three hours of this Long Night we want to take you on a journey into the history of Stanford University; a story between old Europe and the new world, between national consciousness and cosmopolitanism, humanistic educational standards and start-up culture of the 21st century.

David Starr Jordan (Born January 19, 1851 in Wyoming County, New York, † September 19, 1931 in Stanford, California) was an American zoologist, ichthyologist, botanist, eugenicist and peace activist. Its official botanical author's abbreviation is "D.S.Jord.". Read more at Wikipedia

Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford University or Stanford for short, nickname "The Farm") is a private American university in Stanford, California. It is located about 60 kilometers southeast of San Francisco near Palo Alto and was founded by Leland Stanford and his wife Jane Stanford in 1891 in memory of their only son who died young. There are currently 16,122 students enrolled at the university and studying in one of the seven faculties. Read more at Wikipedia

Why Silicon Valley remains unrivaled and forget German universities excellence, explains Stanford President John Henness. Read in DIE ZEIT

A History of Stanford. Reading

At the end of the 19th century, private universities were not yet a "business model"

... and Stanford's plan seemed particularly unsuitable for becoming an economic success: it was difficult to win teachers over to voluntary academic exile at the westernmost end of the world. For students, graduating from the new university seemed unattractive compared to degrees from Princeton, Yale, or even Harvard. At the same time, the construction of the campus required massive investments. From an entrepreneurial point of view, the project was a big risk, not to say a suicide mission. In addition, the University of California, Berkeley, just a few kilometers east of San Francisco, was already an established university in this wilderness. And yet, for Leland and Jane Stanford, the project would become their legacy - and their son's legacy.

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, a connoisseur of Stanford's stories and myths

As a native of Würzburg and a child of the West German post-war period, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has developed into the most famous face of the university in Germany and a connoisseur of its stories and myths since he was appointed to the chair for comparative literature in Stanford in 1989.

"Jane Stanford got pregnant once and for the first time at the age of 43; that is, in the third quarter of the 19th century and this son was born, well and was already the Crown Prince too, and was obviously a bright young man, you don't know, is maybe mythology, at least when he was 16. It is typical, he was sent on an educational trip to Europe.He should have seen Rome and seen Florence and seen Istanbul, they were also in Bad Kissingen in Germany and in Berlin "He should have seen that. And he was infected with typhus in Istanbul and then died in Florence. And it is tragic and not tragicomic that this educational projection - the son should be able to see and should have the education that we don't." so that he can then increase capital better - that led to this death. And then of course the parents were desperate and joined spiritualist circles in Paris en to get in touch with the son. And now I say ironically: it was successful; So the son spoke from beyond and then they said: 'Dear son, what shall we do in your memory?' and Leland Stanford Junior said: 'I want you to found a university for poor children.' And he didn't Said 'boys', maybe by accident, so of course he didn't say anything anyway, but they followed exactly: because he said 'poor children', Stanford was firstly one of the first universities in the country to be co-ed, so Girls and boys took in, and secondly, as long as the university could afford it, it wasn't very long, completely tuition free. There were no tuition fees at all, including room and board. "

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Born June 15, 1948 in Würzburg) is a German-American Romance scholar, literary scholar and literary historian, university professor and journalist. He holds the chair of comparative literature at Stanford University and is a permanent visiting professor at the Université de Montréal, the Collège de France and the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. With his contributions to the press, he has launched numerous debates. Read more at Wikipedia

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, PhD on the Europe Center - Stanford University website

Humboldt expert Jürgen Trabant, himself multiple visiting professor at Stanford

"The scholar or researcher does research, but together with the researching students, they are also researchers. They are not pupils, that is very important. The difference between school and university is very big with Humboldt, not, the school is that Institution that conveys finished knowledge; the university is the institution in which knowledge is produced in the first place. In other words, the joint generation of knowledge is the core of the Humboldt University. "

Jürgen Trabant is professor emeritus for Romance Philology. He is currently a member of the Symbolic Articulation research group. Language and image between action and scheme (Volkswagen Foundation) at the Humboldt University in Berlin. More on his website

Gerhard Casper, in his inauguration speech from 1992

In his 1992 inauguration speech, Gerhard Casper speculated that the Board of Trustees would simply make him the ninth President of Stanford University.

The Humboldt expert Jürgen Trabant, himself several times visiting professor at Stanford: "The scholar or researcher does research, but together with the researching students, they are also researchers. They are not pupils, that is very important. The difference between school and university is yes very strong at Humboldt, not, the school is the institution that conveys finished knowledge; the university is the institution in which knowledge is produced in the first place. So the joint generation of knowledge is the core of the Humboldt University. "The problem is However, that Hutten did not write his invectives in German at all, but in Latin. "

Casper followed the story of Jordan's guiding principle and wrote an essay about it in 1995, in which he cited an improvised Founders ’Day address of Jordan, who was then emeritus from 1917:

“In connection with one of my early speeches, I had the opportunity to quote Ulrich von Hutten when he was campaigning for the persecuted Luther. 'Don't you know that the air of freedom blows?' Mr. Stanford liked this quote and liked it of the assembled professors and somehow 'The air of freedom blows' got on the seal of the university these days. "

A lifelong leader in academia and an esteemed scholar of constitutional law, Gerhard Casper served as Stanford University’s president from 1992-2000. During that time, his commitment to excellence in both undergraduate and graduate education resulted in a number of major initiatives. A decorated academic, Professor Casper holds honorary doctorates from Yale and Uppsala Universities, Bard College, and the Central European University. Continue reading

Gerhard Casper (Born December 25, 1937 in Hamburg) is a German constitutional lawyer and law professor. Casper was President of Stanford University in California from 1992 to 2000 and has been President of the American Academy in Berlin since July 2015. More at Wikipedia

German culture and Humboldt’s educational concept

Jordan's admiration for German culture and Humboldt’s idea of ​​education made him appear particularly suspicious. In fact, however, his pacifism was by no means motivated by a pro-German attitude. Rather, his argument against war was based on biological considerations: Humanity, Jordan said, could not allow itself to remove the strongest and best men from their gene pool through wars. In 1907, the ichthyologist and Darwinist had formed a philosophy of positive selection of human genes from his scientific insights and convictions.

David Starr Jordan: "How long will the republic exist? As long as the ideas of its founding fathers dominate. How long will these ideas dominate? Just as long as the blood of the founding fathers dominates the blood of their people. Not the blood of Puritans and Virgins alone , the actual founders of free states, but rather the blood of free-born men in general, be it Greeks, Romans, Franks, Saxons, Normans, Danes, Celts, Scots, Goths or Samurai. It is the supply of such free blood, the one free Nation makes possible. Our republic will exist as long as its human genetic harvest is good, so long as history, advances in science and industry have been able to ensure the best and not the worst of every single generation. "

The freedom of research and teaching

Research and teaching should be free - but only to the extent that the knowledge gained served the very concrete progress. There was broad consensus on this in postwar America. The view that ...:

"... science was useful, if not absolutely fundamental for industrial progress, but that direct interference by the state in the promotion and coordination of academic projects was inappropriate, became the dominant view after the end of World War I. At the same time, advocates of a more active role for the state were by effectively cornering the conservative 'backlash' against real or imagined socialists and radicals. In this climate, the leaders of scientific, industrial and philanthropic associations worked efficiently to both celebrate and promote private science funding. "

In fact, in addition to tuition fees, other ways of financing university operations were tried out in Stanford, including one that had not played a role at this place until now, but has now become a kind of trademark of the university: the systematic, high-goal donation campaigns, so-called 'Fundraisers'.

The story of white men

If you look at the history of Stanford from its beginnings to the years after World War II, it is to a large extent the history of white men: from Leland Stanford and David Starr Jordan to Hoover, Wilbur, Tresidder and Terman. The series could be supplemented. Apart from Jane Stanford, there is practically no woman in her. The decision to teach co-ed and to enable men and women to study at the new university, which was quite spectacular at the beginning, was soon put into perspective by the restriction of the number of female students. For a long time there were few Afro-American students at Stanford. That changed only with the influx of former soldiers after the Second World War, who, thanks to the so-called GI-Bill, did not have to pay tuition fees. And yet, it seems, there is a direct line from the influential gentlemen's clubs Hoovers, the "Bohemian- "and the" Fishing Club ", to the image of Stanford as a college for the white upper class. A university that is conservative, elitist and state-supporting. The term "Cold War University" used by Rebecca Lowen fits into the scheme. Stanford as the university of the 'Hoover Institution', the politically more right-wing thinker; as the university that conducts war-relevant research for the military complex with institutions such as the SRI, the "Stanford Research Institute", as the '68 denounced. But there is also another narrative, another story of this institution since World War II. A story in which the relative provinciality of the west coast leads to a special form of cosmopolitanism and alternative culture becomes the starting point of sneaker capitalism in Silicon Valley; a story in which Humboldt’s idea is modified and preserved for the 21st century through its development into an elite university that is particularly excellent in IT subjects.

Stanford's first campus abroad

In 1958, the university launched a program that is unique to this day and which at first seems to contradict its focus on national, patriotic tasks: Stanford's first campus abroad opened in the Swabian town of Beutelsbach, a good 20 minutes' drive from Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg. In retrospect, the estate, which is located on a vineyard above the village, appears to be a surprising choice. The now more than ten campuses around the world are mainly located in capital cities and large cities. In addition to Madrid, Paris and Istanbul, Stanford students can also go to Hong Kong, Cape Town or Santiago de Chile for two trimesters abroad of their choice. But this cosmopolitanism began in the southwest German province. Today's hotel and restaurant "Landgut Burg" still reminds of this phase of its history with a 'House Stanford', in which between 1958 and 1974 80 American students per trimester set a quite exotic accent in the tranquil Rems Valley. Housed in host families in the village, they are still present in the memories of the older residents of Beutelsbach.

In addition to the coincidences, however, the decision in favor of Beutelsbach also seems to have been a deliberate decision in favor of the province. Tours and Florence, the two and three campuses abroad, were not big cities either. The first Austrian branch was in Semmering, around 1900 summer retreat for the wealthy Viennese, and the students lived here, far from any urbanity, in the insolvent Grand Hotel Panhans.

Early 1950s: Stanford University students donate books to the library of the recently founded Freie Universität Berlin. Stanford becomes the first university to establish a direct exchange scholarship at the F.U. The Free University remains an important partner.
1958: Stanford opens the first overseas campus in Beutelsbach / Baden Württemberg. This will be the cornerstone of a network of Stanford University study centers outside the United States, the Stanford Overseas Studies Program, which has expanded over the course of the following decades. Continue reading


Karen Kramer, director of the German campus, which finally moved to Berlin in 1975, puts the initial decision in favor of the province in relation to Stanford's special character:

"Yeah, why is that? Well, I think it fits in part with the image Stanford had of himself. Stanford is also 'rural' is the wrong word, but, now there is the whole Valley, that didn't exist always. Stanford was a horse farm the cities are maybe, I don't know, maybe a bit suspicious, maybe parents would have been afraid to send their children to cities, I suppose it was just a picture of Old Europe, yes, Old Germany ".It's a rather unusual program, of course I don't know all the programs from all universities, but this one, I actually hate the word 'elite university', that is all the time, in Germany everyone speaks of elite universities, in the USA one does not speak of elite universities, but rather Large research universities, private universities, so: such a university does not usually have such a program of this scale and type. There are many good programs and they are mostly, not always, mostly embedded in area studies, departments of foreign universities. The Romanists then go to Italy or Paris or whatever. And Stanford always did it differently. "

Dr. Karen Ruoff Kramer, Director: I've been the Director here since 1980 and teach "Contemporary Theater", "Culture and Politics in Modern Germany", "Split Images: A Century of Cinema". Continue reading

2000: Stanford acquires House of Cramer from the Senate of Berlin. This is made possible by the generosity and future-oriented thinking of a Berlin alumnus of Stanford University, Hans George Will. The Berlin Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture and the Berlin House of Representatives give their approval and support to the acquisition, and the President of Stanford University, Prof. Gerhard Casper, the Director of Stanford Overseas Studies, Prof. Russell Berman, and the Director of Stanford in Berlin, Dr. Karen Kramer, prepare the way and are also committed to it. Continue reading

Deepening of the study visits in Berlin

Wolf-Dietrich Junghanns: "Well, we now have 1280 students in the program who have completed around 1330 internships. The difference is that some students have completed a second internship, so they like it so much that they do it again come back a year later, or do two internships in a row. "

Wolf-Dietrich Junghanns, responsible for arranging and organizing the "internships", describes the program as a deepening of the study visits to Berlin: "The goal is a deeper penetration into the German language and culture. So we have very good language courses, but in real life Learning and using a language is something completely different. The study program has to be academically demanding and does not leave so much time for individual getting to know each other. So there is already time, we are also trying to support this with courses, i.e. theater courses , Film courses, sports culture courses and the like. But living as an intern or as an intern in Germany, in other words, in another country, is something else. Well, I know we once had a student who was on the career path of the 'diplomatic service' and who didn't want to do anything wrong and has read several books, how do I avoid culture shock. That would not be my recommendation now, it would you should get yourself a culture shock in order to have an experience yourself, so a deep experience. "

In the 1960s, the program went through a wedding

The returnees brought with them to the "Bay Area" not only in-depth knowledge of ancient European history and culture from abroad. What the students had learned during their two trimesters at the branches in Italy, France or Germany also led to changes in everyday life at home. Karen Kramer recalls coming back to campus for a quarter in 1969 after being absent for two years:

"Everything has changed. In the smallest of banal ways. When I started at university - the women and men lived completely separately in different apartment buildings. That is no longer the case. And we had to go every night, after dinner, when we." wanted to go to the library somewhere or something, we had to register where we were going. And we had to be back at ten o'clock. And everything was unbelievably orderly. And strictly organized. In the second year it was a little more relaxed, in the third year it was a little more relaxed A bit looser, but it wouldn’t have been really easy had it not been for this student movement. And suddenly, in the third or fourth year of my course, they simply gave up all the rules. Yes, we were suddenly free people and could Do whatever we wanted. It must have gotten really wild, in part, after my time. In the meantime, I think that is narrowing again, because times are just really changing. "

Is Stanford a Lifestyle University Today?

The literary critic Mara Delius studied at Stanford in the mid-2000s and witnessed the transformation of the 'farm' into a kind of Robinson Club for intellectuals:

"So I didn't find it so lifestyle-wise, although the picture is somehow correct. I remember a friend of mine looked at pictures of Stanford and said: 'Oh, interesting, do you feel good there, it works like that 'n ...', as she put it, 'like a golf club for rich kids, so little.' Also that you sometimes drove around with these golf carts. But for me Stanford was just this wonderful library, the opportunity to yourself To withdraw so completely in this extremely paradoxical, yes, withdrawal, but an extremely concentrated atmosphere. Also that you knew that even at 2 o'clock in the night there were busy undergraduates in the library reading and studying. "

Despite the changes such as the tremendous acceleration of life on campus, Stanford remains a university conscious of its tradition.

Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht: "You can find it good or bad, but the center of industrial and technological creativity is in Silicon Valley and it is in Silicon Valley because Stanford is in Silicon Valley. Yes, so Silicon Valley emerged from Stanford and lives in an osmosis with Stanford to this day. But now, as a consolation for the humanities scholars, I'll tell you and end with the following anecdote: A little less than ten years ago, as my mother-in-law would have said, she used the expression 'approached' a lot The Computer Science Department at Stanford approached the Literature Departments, so we felt very honored, they wanted something from us, and asked if we could do a major / minor together, the people who were in college Choose a major in Computer Science, and make a second major in literature: German literature, Italian literature, African literature or comparative literature, which is my subject i st. Yes and, we then voted on it and so my colleagues felt immensely honored about this proposal from the Computer Science Department and I was the only skeptic, I abstained because I thought it would now take us to the beautiful little front yard of Referring to computer science, to relax they read a literary text. So 'here I stand corrected', as they say in English, this is very, very successful, the program, and has brought us a new kind of intelligence and productive intelligence into our seminars. Our colleagues at Computer Science are excited about it, saying these are not the highest enrollments, so a lot of students do that, but they say the elite, the best in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or Symbolic Systems, these are the three majors that come with Computers have to do this program with you. And if you now ask these students, who have suddenly become my students too, have been to my seminars, and ask them why are you doing this, they say, because it makes us better programmers, that is to say in English: ' it helps us writing code better. 'From individual cases where I have done independent reading with the students, it has become very plausible to me that it really makes them better computer scientists and programmers, and it has us and me completely introduced a new kind of intelligence, the confrontation with a completely new kind of intelligence and perhaps in a way that is actually only conceivable today in Silicon Valley or in Stanford, namely not in Berkeley or in Harvard or in Yale, the Humboldt ' thought into the 21st century. Not, these are perhaps no longer the natural scientists today, but the people who produce artificial intelligence, and if Hegel or Nietzsche or god forbid Heidegger or Rorty want to read, that has consequences today. "

Stanford, a flagship institution of the American science system

The Californian Stanford University has transformed the academic reform project and mausoleum into the model institution of the American scientific system. Leland Stanford's farm became the "Cold War University" closely linked to state institutions and, not least because of this, the scene of violent student protests in 68; The start-up culture of our time developed from the local mix of academic elite, entrepreneurship and hippie-esque non-conformism. As the intellectual center of Silicon Valley, Stanford is the engine of the industry that is changing the everyday lives of billions of people like no other: the IT industry with its most important representatives Apple, Google and Facebook.

How does this story continue? Can Stanford be an example for a contemporary update of Humboldt’s University? Or does it point to their final end?

It will likely take a few more years to answer the questions.