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Pioneers in Educational Globe-trotting: Stanford Travel/Study at 50

Stanford Travel/Study, Nile, 2013

Brett S. Thompson, ’83, Director, Stanford Travel/Study, Stanford University

William Durham, ’71, Bing Professor in Human Biology, Emeritus, Stanford University 

Cindy Hunter Lang, Class of ’83, Stanford University

Stanford Travel/Study began in 1968, at a time when Stanford, like many universities, was the site of student unrest. Rixford Snyder, ’30, MA ’34, PhD ’40, historian and retired dean of admissions, had recently taken over programming for the alumni summer college. He had the idea to hold the summer program on a riverboat in Europe—alumni and their families would listen to lectures while cruising the Rhine River. That trip inspired a whole program of international travel led by Stanford faculty. Combining travel with continuing education, it was different from anything that traditional tour operators were offering. Peter Voll, ’65, Travel/Study’s director from 1974 to 1992, grew the program from two trips per year to 44. His thirst for firsts led alumni travelers to the farthest corners of the globe, from the first American group of non-official delegates to China led by pioneering Chinese history professor Lyman Van Slyke, to Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Libya, Antarctica and the North Pole. Today, Travel/Study conducts over 70 unique travel programs a year to all seven continents, each one led by Stanford faculty. In this look back at 50 years of globe-trotting, the program’s director Brett Thompson, ’83, joined by anthropological sciences professor and longtime trip leader Bill Durham, ’71, who pioneered Travel/Study’s field seminar programs with undergraduate students, as well as past traveler Cindy Hunter Lang, ’83, reflected on the history, growth, and challenges of Stanford’s educational journeys.

This program is co-sponsored by Stanford Travel/Study.