Public service at Stanford

Through Cardinal Service and other programs, Stanford offers students a 21st-century approach to fulfilling Jane Stanford's hope and trust that students would use their educations to become of greater service to the public.

At Stanford, students are offered many ways to incorporate public service into their lives.

They can live in Branner Hall, whose residents – sophomores, juniors and seniors – have made a commitment to incorporate public service into their lives.

They can participate in Cardinal Service, a university-wide initiative designed to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education. The Haas Center for Public Service is the hub of the program, which has many spokes.

Video: Kurt Hickman

“Public service has always been a part of Stanford’s identity, and Cardinal Service is a means of elevating and acknowledging the robust and varied efforts throughout the university that connect service and learning,” said Tom Schnaubelt, executive director of the Haas Center.

“Stanford’s public service ecosystem has evolved greatly over the past several decades, and the Cardinal Service initiative creates opportunities for students, faculty and staff to integrate these rich academic and community experiences with greater intentionality and cohesiveness.”

While the instruction offered must be such as will qualify the students for personal success and direct usefulness in life, they should understand that it is offered in the hope and trust that they will become thereby of greater service to the public.

Jane Stanford

Students can:

  • Enroll in Cardinal Courses that apply new knowledge to real-world problems, choosing from more than 130 Cardinal Courses, such as Food and Society: Politics, Culture and Society and Well Being in Immigrant Children and Youth.
  • Spend an academic quarter or a summer lending a hand in communities and organizations – at home and overseas – through Cardinal Quarter. Stanford provides financial support, including grants, research fellowships, internships and work-study jobs to students who participate in the program.
  • Join one of more than 125 student-led service organizations or participate in one of Stanford’s innovative service programs through Cardinal Commitment, such as Science in Service, which connects Stanford students with young people – fourth- to eighth-graders – in neighboring communities through science mentorships and after-school science programs.
  • Apply for postgraduate fellowships for full-time, mentored experiences in organizations dedicated to serving the public good through Cardinal Careers.

Students also can participate in special programs offered by the Bing Overseas Studies Program, including Community Health in Oaxaca, a community-engaged, service-learning project in Mexico.

Read about public service at Stanford

Stanford students make a real-world difference through Cardinal Courses

Whether learning advanced writing techniques, key concepts of social science research, or the intricacies of new technologies, students are applying what they learn to help organizations dedicated to improving the lives of people in need.

Students collaborate with community groups in Farmers, Scientists, Activists

Students enrolled in Farmers, Scientists, Activists: Public Discourse on Food Economies acted as consultants, writers, interviewers, project managers, team members and citizens while collaborating with community groups during the winter quarter course.

Students put research skills to work for an organization that tutors schoolchildren

Students enrolled in Communication Research Methods designed small-scale research studies for a local nonprofit organization that offers one-on-one tutoring to children.

Students use technology to address poverty and inequality

Students enrolled in Ending Poverty with Technology explored answers to the question: Can we harness new technologies to reduce poverty and inequality?

New Stanford graduate is empowering people with disabilities in Thailand

New Stanford graduate Oranicha “Natty” Jumreornvong moved across the world to learn more about how to improve the lives of people with disabilities at home in Thailand. Next year she'll attend medical school and hopes to apply what she learns to help people back home.

New course tackles designing for people with disabilities

A new course teaches undergraduates how to design for people with physical disabilities. Each week, students learn about a different disability, then brainstorm design ideas to address issues and present their work to the class.

Stanford students learn about community from Spanish-speaking immigrants

Community-engaged Spanish classes take students outside the bubble and change their worldview along the way.

Stanford program brings science mentors to San Jose high school

Stanford graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are helping Andrew P. Hill High School students grow their interests in science through mentorship and project-based learning.

Girls Teaching Girls to Code

Founded in 2012, Girls Teaching Girls to Code is a student-led organization that introduces Bay Area high school girls to computer science and programming basics.

Stanford program helps develop next-generation STEM leaders through service

Student volunteers develop leadership and mentorship skills and the ability to communicate science to non-scientists.

Unexpected insight

Stanford student-athletes gain perspective on their own lives while serving others for three weeks overseas as participants in the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program.

Stanford football player dedicated to studies, sports and inspiring kids

Harrison Phillips, a rising junior, has tutored children and youth, participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and raised money to launch a new chapter of an academic, fitness and mentoring program in Omaha, Nebraska, his hometown.

Stanford student volunteers in projects near and far

During his four years at Stanford, Zeshan Hussain explored several paths in public service, including direct service, activism and philanthropy.

Living and breathing public service at Stanford

Vy Tran, who is pursuing a co-terminal master's degree in Community Health & Prevention Research, began her public service journey at Stanford as a medical interpreter – in Vietnamese and Spanish – for patients at a nearby medical center.

Stanford students share joys of computer science with girls

Girls Code Camp, a nonprofit group created by three Stanford students that offered introductory computer science workshops to more than 400 schoolgirls in Hyderabad, India, is now offering its second round of classes.

Stanford students put computer science skills to social good

Four undergraduates have co-founded CS+Social Good, an organization that utilizes technology to make a positive social impact.

Stanford launches initiative to strengthen commitment to public service

A new initiative, Cardinal Service, builds on the university's longstanding commitment to public service by elevating and expanding opportunities to weave service more deeply into the distinctive identity and culture of the Stanford student experience.