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Cardinal Service: Cultivating Civic Identity at Stanford University

SIG Oval Office Hours 2014

Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne has called upon the Stanford community to “commit to being a purposeful university, a courageous university, a university of unlimited potential.” 

These words capture a vision for Stanford as a university in which “education” means not just developing knowledge and skills, but also the ability and disposition to be engaged and effective global citizens—a university that prepares students not just for careers, but for life. There has never been a greater need for leaders with the capacity and commitment to address complex social challenges.  

Throughout the campus Stanford is working collaboratively with local, national, and global partners to resolve social, economic, and environmental challenges at every level. A core component of these efforts is Cardinal Service—a bold, university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education. Through hands-on service experiences, academic coursework, community-engaged research, and leadership development, Stanford students develop the habits of active democractic participation and form their civic identity. Cardinal Service draws on a network of students, faculty, staff, and local and global community partners dedicated to cultivating civic identity through transformative service experiences for students and through the integration of high-impact teaching, learning, and research. 

Transformative service: Students seek opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills—in fields from computer science and finance, to the humanities and public policy—to address real-world problems and have meaningful social impact. Cardinal Service currently supports a range of experiences through which students encounter difference; clarify values; participate in democratic practices; and work within and across public, private, and independent sectors in multiple pathways of public service.

High-impact teaching, learning, and research: Cardinal Service forges new ways of learning on and off campus that build upon the enduring values of a liberal education while tapping the entrepreneurial spirit for which Stanford is known. Learning opportunities integrate the development of discipline-based skills with hands-on problem-solving and community service. 

As the hub of Cardinal Service, the Haas Center for Public Service adopts a holistic approach in preparing students for, in Jane Stanford’s words, “personal success and direct usefulness in life.”  The cultivation of civic identity complements the University’s commitment to the formation of academic, personal, and professional identities.

Stanford is poised to embark on a bold new chapter as a “purposeful university” and to lead a civic resurgence in higher education. Cardinal Service reflects Stanford’s commitment to public service as defining the character and culture of the University.  The Haas Center and Cardinal Service are prepared to play a central role in reaffirming the core purpose of a Stanford education as the pursuit of academic excellence and service to benefit humanity.