Friday, November 24, 2017

Service-Learning at Stanford

Stanford University is, of course, one of the best research universities in the world.  It produced the largest number of Nobel prizewinners (7) in this century.  On the other hand, Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck was named a recipient of the inaugural Yidan Prize (worth US$4 million) in recognition of her innovative contributions to education.  Her research on the grow6th mindset, the belief that intellectual abilities are not fixed but can be nurtured, has long had far-reaching impact, and has long been a core component of my own beliefs. 

Stanford is also a leader in public service.  It’s president calls their university a “purposeful” university, meaning a university that promotes and celebrates excellence not as an end in itself, but rather as a means to multiply its beneficial impact on society.  Stanford established the Haas Centre for Public Service more than three decades ago.  The building which houses the Haas Centre is not particularly remarkable.  What is remarkable is the work this is going-on. 

As Stanford celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016, teh university lunched Cardinal Service, a campus-wide initiative to renew their commitment to public service.  It encourage students to take cardinal courses - which apply classroom knowledge to address real world societal and environmental problems.  Courses such as Perspectives on Assistive Technology (ENGR100), Ending Poverty with Technology, (SOC 157), where students can design their solutions at the Poverty and Technology Lab, and Sustainable Cities (URBANST 164).   There are more than 150 Cardinal courses offered across 39 departments.

Student can pursue cardinal quarters - a full time summer or quarter-long public service experience, to integrate classroom knowledge with field experience.  For example, work at a refugee camp in Greece, help to construct an adult community centre and facilitate educational programs for adults, unaccompanied minors and children at the camp.  492 students completed a Cardinal Quarter in summer 2016.  

Students can make a Cardinal Commitment - declare a major, join a student-led organization, etc..  270 students tutored and mentored local youth through signature Education Partnership programs in 2016-17. Students are encouraged to pursue a Cardinal Career - seek jobs in the public interest or integrate service into a career.  

Stanford is admirable in many ways.  

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