Last fall, the Haas Center for Public Service launched Cardinal Service, a program designed to significantly expand the role of public service at Stanford.
Cardinal Service was created in response to calls from both students and administration for more institutional support of service initiatives, and encompasses four different levels of involvement: Cardinal Quarter, Cardinal Commitment, Cardinal Careers, and Cardinal Courses.
According to the Haas Center website, there are currently 75 Cardinal Courses in 25 departments and programs, with plans to double that over the next five years.
The purpose of “Cardinal Courses” is to integrate community service into the academic curriculum through both undergraduate and graduate-level courses.
“Cardinal Quarter” is a program that allows students to take part in quarter-long community service endeavors; “Cardinal Commitment” lets students sustain involvement in a particular service project throughout their Stanford experience; and “Cardinal Careers” seeks to encourage students to integrate public service into the career paths they chose upon leaving Stanford.
According to Tom Schnaubelt, the Haas Center’s executive director, the Cardinal Service initiative’s commitment to expanding the role of public service is a reflection of the university’s founding ethos.
“It goes back to the founding of the institution, as part of an amendment to the charter…Jane Stanford said that instruction is given to students so they can be of service to the public,” Schnaubelt said.
Connie Huynh ‘15, a Masters student in Public Policy, who has been involved in many Haas Center projects, believes that Cardinal Service will have a positive effect on campus by increasing students exposure and access to long term service projects.
Huynh wishes Cardinal Service had been around when she was a freshman.
“I was not exposed to all the public service experiences as extensively as the Cardinal Service initiative. I wish I was because I know it could have changed my freshman year for the better,” said Huynh.
“There is no excuse for inaction. Cardinal Service breaks down many ways to foster an environment where every student can become of greater service to humanity,” she added.
Additionally, according to Schnaubelt, the diversity in scale and scope of Cardinal Service is the result of the multi-faceted interests of Stanford students and their growing awareness of the need for service.
“There has been an uptick in interest in institutional support for public service; throughout last year you saw many Daily articles saying service should be integrated into courses and majors,” Schnaubelt said. “President Hennessy and the administration are also very interested in Cardinal Service, seeing us stepping up our game and getting students involved.”
One of the goals of Cardinal Service is to reach out to students to encourage the integration of public service into their interests and coursework with an inter-disciplinary approach, through Cardinal Courses.
“Academic institutions are built around disciplines, human problems are not. They are by definition interdisciplinary. Thus, if you want to address an issue you need to approach it from an interdisciplinary perspective,” Schnaubelt said.
While many Cardinal Service efforts are found in courses, the core of the initiative is the increase in longer-term projects that allow students to work in a government setting, social impact group, or nonprofit for a quarter or longer. These longer experiences have proved most transformative for students.
For example, Eric Fabre ’16, awarded the Halper Fellowship through the Haas Center to pursue an international service project, was able to participate service in South Africa.
“I worked for an organization called WhizzKids United, using soccer to promote HIV/AIDS education and prevention. I was mainly involved with the girls soccer team, helping the coaches with techniques, lesson plans, and ideas on how to bring in more girls.”
Fabre added that this public service experience confirmed his interest in sports and development while allowing him to make a difference in people’s life.
“This is something I am extremely passionate about and wanted to do; my time in South Africa has done nothing but confirm that I want to continue bringing joy and hard work to the people that need it most.”
Contact Zachary Brown at zbrown ‘at’ stanford.edu.