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July 5, 2022

Introducing the 2022 Three Books

Dear 2022 incoming frosh and transfer students,
Welcome to Stanford!  This is one of many congratulation notes and letters of excitement you will be receiving until (and after) you matriculate here.  But this one is special!!  I am writing as the faculty member honored with selecting the theme of this year’s “Three Books” program.  This signature program began in 2004 and has become one of the cherished new student experiences.  By having access to these resources this summer, you will become part of the conversation at Stanford before actually setting foot on campus!
This year’s theme is Biodiversity. Biodiversity--the bewildering, magnificent, enthusiastic array of life on the planet: Not just people, but ALL life.  And not just a list of species, but the myriad of ways that organisms interact, consume, and channel energy into living and reproduction.  Perhaps most importantly, biodiversity is not just about now, it is the sum of all living matter that has created, and in turn, responded to and in turn shaped our world over billions of years.  Past and present diversity is indeed a compendium of histories, of adaptations to change in conditions on the planet.  Yet as humanity is eroding biological diversity, we are destroying these histories, limiting our repertoire of choices and knowledge and resilience for the future and, in turn, we are threatening our own survival.
Whether we approach this topic as biologists intent on describing and understanding how the diversity of life grew and interacts, or as humanists who draw inspiration from life itself, or as engineers driven to reveal the structures that evolution has tested for strength and flexibility, or as physicists attempting to scale the living into metabolic rules of energy transfer, or as geologists transfixed by form and function, or as global leaders trying to feed the world, or as doctors trying to understand and treat what ails us, biodiversity is indeed what sustains humanity.
The selections for this year’s theme include two books and a documentary, each of which address unique approaches to biodiversity and its loss.  Why Fish Don’t Exist, is a delightful journey of NPR reporter Lulu Miller into her own life and that of David Starr Jordan, a renowned fish taxonomist who was also Stanford University’s first president.  Here history, biography and biology collide in a quirky take on the personal and professional. This book has been selected by Stanford Introductory Studies and the “Why College?” faculty and you will have opportunities for discussion and reflection in first-year courses throughout next year, including meeting Lulu Miller in-person.  You will receive this book when you arrive in September.  Ed Yong’s new book, Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, is a take on biodiversity that will thrill and fascinate you.  How can we know what we cannot experience ourselves?  A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his science writing, Yong immerses us into a novel world of perception, one that will challenge us to appreciate and cherish diversity in a new way.  César-winning environmental film maker, Cyril Dion, has produced a new documentary, Animal, featuring Bella Lack and Vipulan Puvaneswaran who travel the world to witness first-hand the ecological crises confronting biodiversity.  One of the most powerful threads in this film is the collision between individuals whose livelihoods depend on, for example, the meat industry, and activists who assume that all killing of animals is wrong.  Watching these two young people who are now your age navigate the complexity of global versus local forces is fascinating, but learning what they continue to do since the film was made, when they were 16, is inspiring.
The crowning event of the Three Books program is the in-person author panel here at Stanford in September.  I am thrilled to say that we will have Ed Yong, Cyril Dion, Bella Lack and Vipulan Puvaneswaran on stage for the afternoon of September 23.  What an incredible opportunity to view biodiversity through their eyes, for you to use your own experiences and perspectives to query them, and for you to learn how they hone their crafts of writing, filmmaking and activism.  I am so excited to learn with you and I look forward to meeting you on campus.
Whichever of the 50 states and 75 countries around the world you hail from, at Stanford you become part of a community that goes forth and changes the world.  The Three Books theme this year will connect you with a critical thread that we need to persist, to thrive on this planet, and to steward our home for the future. 
Profile photo of Prof Liz Hadly (courtesy of Liz Hadly)
Dr. Elizabeth Hadly
Professor of Biology
Faculty Director, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve
Stanford University
Access the 2022 Three Books
Photo of OC Anh's frosh dormmates at Frosh Formal (photo courtesy of Anh Huynh)

The OC Zone

The Orientation Coordinators (OCs) are in the process of prepping our amazing volunteer Stanford students to begin  individual outreach to those of you who opted on your Approaching Stanford Forms to be contacted by current students. Stay tuned for those outreach emails later this month from your friendly neighborhood Orientation Volunteer!
In the meantime, check out the OC Blog this week for another set of posts on student life at Stanford! Anh shares her "I Am Stanford" story (with Anh's frosh dorm photo above), Emily talks about the family she found in joining Stanford Taiko, one of Stanford's Voluntary Student Organizations (VSOs), Zoë maps out her favorite campus running routes, Jason gives you student insider tips on course-planning, and Olivia spotlights IntroSem Chemistry in the Kitchen as a fun and interactive way to fulfill a general education breadth requirement.
Read the OC Blog

Advising Corner: 
Exploring Academic Possibilities at Stanford - Dipping your toes in

How has your Summer been so far? We hope you have taken time to spend with friends and family, to reflect on your accomplishments, and to do things just for the fun of it. We also want to let you know that we feel incredibly lucky that you chose to join us on The Farm as the next stop in your academic journey.
As we said in our first post, while it is still a little early to plan your Autumn quarter courses, we do know that you are really excited to get going. ExploreCourses (Stanford’s online course catalog) won’t be updated for the 2022-2023 Academic Year until mid-August. Nevertheless, as your Academic Advisors, we’ll be sending you another Advising Newsletter in July about the many academic resources that will be available to you throughout your time at Stanford.
For right now, a first step you might take is exploring all the different majors Stanford has to offer. As you already know, Stanford does not ask admitted students to declare a major right away. This is, in part, because we want you to spend your first year exploring the many academic possibilities out there. And your Undergraduate Advising Director (UAD) is happy to help you with that exploration. In the meantime, however, you might start taking a look at the many departments and majors that Stanford has to offer. You don’t need to delve deeply into them; in fact, we think all you need to do is just scroll through them all to give yourself a sense of the scope of possibilities. Doing this is a nice first step in learning about the different academic directions you will get to explore here at Stanford, and may help you in figuring out some questions to ask of your UAD when you meet.
Stanford Block S graphic with text: Stanford Transfers

Transfer Visit Day: July 8 

New Transfers - We invite you to join us in the Transfers Virtual Zoom Lounge for Transfer Visit Day with Dr. Alice Petty on Friday, July 8, from 11am - 1pm PDT! Come hear about Stanford from current transfer students, learn about resources and opportunities, and meet each other.
RSVP to Transfer Visit Day
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