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Make service part of a purposeful year


In 2021, apply what you are learning to make a difference—on healthcare, racial justice, environmental sustainability, educational equity, policy reform, and other issues. You can enroll in community-engaged learning courses, make a sustained service commitment and contribute to the vital work of public service organizations through full-time, funded fellowships and internships. Through service, be part of a caring community working together on projects with purpose.

Enroll in courses that integrate academics with service

Choose from winter Cardinal Courses that integrate coursework for credit with service experience in education, environment, health, human rights, identity, and public interest technology and engineering. Here are a few community-engaged learning courses being offered:

  • Advanced Spanish Service-Learning: Migration, Asylum, and Human Rights at the Border: Apply advanced Spanish language skills as a remote volunteer with an immigrant rights advocacy organization. (This workshop is open to students enrolled in SPANLANG 108SL.)
  • Conservation Photography: Learn about the field of conservation photography and the strategic use of visual communication in addressing environmental sustainability and conservation.
  • Perspectives in Assistive Technology: Explore the personal, medical, social, ethical and technical challenges surrounding the design, development and use of technologies that improve the lives of people with disabilities and older adults.
  • Psychology of Xenophobia: Explore the decades of research documenting how stress associated with stigma, intimidation and discrimination is detrimental to the physical and mental health of people in communities that are marginalized.

Explore Cardinal Courses for winter across academic departments and programs.

Make a commitment to serve

Get support to engage in sustained public service to a community, organization or program, or issue for three or more quarters. The Cardinal Commitment program offers advising, funding, connections to community organizations, training, and structured opportunities for reflection.

The program is structured to help you develop leadership skills throughout your service journey. At the engagement level, make a sustained commitment to a public service organization or program. At the leadership level, play a significant leadership role in a service organization or movement. At the impact level, engage in a special project for a service organization or movement to advance its long-term goals.

At more advanced levels, you can deepen your service experience, knowledge and skills by becoming a student leader for the Haas Center for Public Service’s hallmark Education Partnership programs or by delving into an issue through the Public Service Leadership Program. Finally, you can complete a community-engaged capstone project under the supervision of an academic advisor or convene a group of student groups in a thematic issue area, working on a community-defined need.

Learn more about opportunities to make a Commitment.

Apply to serve full-time in spring or summer

Through Cardinal Quarter, you can dedicate spring or summer quarter to full-time service with a public service organization. Explore 500 funded service fellowships and internships offered by more than 30 campus partners.

The application deadline for most spring opportunities is February 1, and for summer is March 15, though deadlines may vary. Letters of recommendation are required as part of application materials, and it’s important to note the eligibility requirements for this year.

Examples of service you can pursue through Cardinal Quarter fellowships and internships include:

  • Collaboratively engage in community-based research on a pressing community problem
  • Serve full-time with a Bay Area grantmaking foundation
  • Spend a quarter in the field of public interest law
  • Serve with a public service organization on social, political, or economic issues affecting Black American; Chicanx/Latinx; Asian/Asian American; or American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Indigenous Pacific Islander communities
  • Provide service to older adults and/or conduct research on issues related to aging in order to enhance seniors’ quality of life and participation in the community
  • Work in the sustainable energy field

See Cardinal Quarter opportunities for spring and summer 2021.

To be eligible, you must have completed two full-time enrolled quarters this academic year by the time your Cardinal Quarter begins, but these quarters do not have to be consecutive. You can participate by taking a Flex Term; you are not eligible to participate while on a Leave of Absence. (Please review this video for an explanation of a Flex Term vs. a Leave of Absence and consult this page for a planning tool for your Term Options). International students must consult with Bechtel before attempting to take a Flex Term without previous three quarters of full-time enrollment.

It’s also important to know that students are only eligible for one Stanford-funded full-time experiential learning opportunity during the 2020-21 academic year (including summer). For questions, please contact Cardinal Quarter advisors for an appointment:

Apply for a public service fellowship post-graduation

If you are a graduating senior or coterm with a deep commitment to public service, consider applying for one of more than 25 prestigious Cardinal Careers Fellowships. Each fellowship offers a one-year, full-time, mentored experience in an organization with a mission to serve the public good. Applications are due in January and early February.

Have a question? Schedule an appointment with a Cardinal Careers advisor.

As you consider how to make the most of 2021, getting involved in public service offers a chance to build community at Stanford, pursue meaningful work, and play a role in creating a more just and sustainable world.