Cardinal Courses continue to grow, engage with larger community

April 21, 2017, 12:20 a.m.

In the four years since the pilot project, Community Engaged Learning (CEL) classes run through the Haas Center for Public Service have taken off at Stanford. The service-focused, experiential learning courses have offered over 1,700 students annually the chance to put their skills to work in the real world. Many of these popular classes have worked to engage Spanish-speaking members of the local community.

Cardinal Courses continue to grow, engage with larger community
(Courtesy of International Institute of the Bay Area)

CEL classes are offered in many departments and subjects, from comparative studies in race and ethnicity to earth systems, with approximately 130 Cardinal Courses each year. In some instances, CEL is offered as a special section in addition to lecture, whereas other classes are structured as CEL in their entirety.

“The demand for Cardinal Courses has exploded in the past year and we hope to extend our program to even more courses,” said Director of CEL Paitra Houts to Stanford News.

While some Stanford classes worked to integrate Spanish into the curriculum even before CEL, engagement with Spanish-speaking people and their cultures has been a growing focus. CEL classes have engaged with over 50 local adults since the Spanish program’s inception.

While such programs have many important applications such as immigration, Ali Miano, coordinator of the Spanish program at the Language Center, said that it will have a local impact as well.

“I wish Stanford students and faculty would engage more with workers on campus,” Miano said.

That’s just one of the reasons the community engagement option is now available in the third-year language sequence each quarter, in which students create multimedia histories following interviews with Spanish-speaking workers around the university.

Other Spanish-themed Cardinal Courses have helped artists spread their work, high school students become involved in activism and immigrants in Redwood City study for their citizenship tests.

In Citlalli Del Carpio’s course, Stanford students help Spanish-speaking high schoolers at East Palo Alto Academy learn about environmental activism, recycling and art. For her, the practical and hands-on components were crucial to the success of the class.

“My students can see the fruit of their labor in real time,” Del Carpio said. “They can connect Spanish-speaking teenagers … ultimately, they come out with a toolbox that will elevate their engagement not only with these communities in the Bay Area, but with the rest of the world.”

Students in the CEL classes have been similarly moved by the experience, which brings awareness to the often invisible presence of immigrants.

“[Spanlang 13SL: Second Year Spanish, Emphasis on Service Learning] is a class filled with beautiful stories and beautiful people that we never get to hear about,” said Kelley Gomez ’17. “It is the opportunity of a lifetime to pull back the veil we tend to keep in place.”


Contact Ada Statler-Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’

Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.

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