Event highlights year of exploring optimism

Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton will speak at the University of Utah on March 9 at 12 p.m. at Kingsbury Hall. The Humans of New York (HONY) project features portraits and stories of people from the streets of New York and has garnered more than 25 million followers on social media. Stanton’s 2015 book “Humans of New York: Stories” is a compilation of these portraits and is a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.

Tickets will be free and available to U students starting Feb. 1 at the Kingsbury Hall box office. A valid student ID is required. Availability will expand to faculty, staff and the general public on Feb. 8 at the box office and online. There is a limit of two tickets per person.

Stanton’s visit to the U is sponsored by the U’s MUSE Project (My U Signature Experience), a presidential initiative that works to enrich undergraduate education across the university, and this visit highlights the MUSE Project’s theme year on optimism.

“Stanton understands his work as fundamentally optimistic — a means of building community through the art of photography and through listening to people tell their stories,” said Mark Matheson, director of the MUSE Project and English professor. “We admire the democratic inclusiveness of his project, which is based on the truth that every human being has a compelling personal narrative.”

Stanton began Humans of New York with a goal to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street and has expanded it to include stories of people across the globe. Additionally, HONY has successfully raised millions of dollars for individuals and organizations. In 2013, Stanton was included in Time magazine’s “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.” He was an ABC News “Person of the Week” and was invited to photograph former President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Through a grant from the O.C. Tanner Company, MUSE has provided 400 copies of “Humans of New York: Stories” to U students and other members of the university community. The book is being used by several professors this semester as part of their course curricula, and MUSE will host student-led discussion groups that will explore Stanton’s work.

“There is something intrinsically optimistic in the process of education itself,” said Matheson. “We believe that every U student brings to our campus a unique constellation of gifts, and our charge is to help all of them develop their personal talents and capacities. We do this by building a culture of individual mentoring across campus and connecting students with inspiring people like Brandon Stanton.”

In addition to the keynote event, the MUSE Project’s theme year on optimism includes a series of Lunchtime Lectures held on the first Thursday of each month. These events feature university professors who discuss their work and how it relates to the theme. More information is available online.

“We hope that through studying Stanton’s work and attending his keynote, U of U students will get a richer sense of individual human experience and of the common ground on which we can build together,” said Matheson. “Stanton is a young man who has actively pursued his own promising idea, and we hope his example will inspire our students to imagine what’s possible for them in their own education and early professional lives.”

Media Contacts

Mark Mathesonprofessor and director of the University of Utah MUSE Project
Office: 801-581-3677

Annalisa PurserCommunications Specialist, University Marketing & Communications
Office: 801-581-7295 Mobile: 435-232-0312