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Stanford's Cardinal Courses integrate rigorous coursework with social impact

Aug 14 2018

A new video series showcases some of the more than 150 Stanford faculty and lecturers from over 50 departments and programs who integrate community engaged learning into their teaching through Cardinal Courses.

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student presentation student interviewing geophysics student

CS 377E: Designing for Global Grand Challenges
Students develop web applications to assist with complex social and environmental challenges.
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CSRE 196C: Introduction to Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Students work with Bay Area nonprofits on community organizing and social justice campaigns.
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GEOPHYS 190: Near-Surface Geophysics
Students apply geophysical imaging methods and tools to sustainable water management in California’s Central Valley.
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Health students Storytelling student Environment students

HUMBIO 127A: Community Health Assessment and Planning
Students apply research skills to assessing a health program serving people with diabetes.
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TAPS 126: Sound Stories
Students learn nuances of storytelling through collaborations with community organizations.
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EDUC 332: Theory and Practice of Environmental Education
Students learn about environmental education amid iconic redwood forests.
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University faculty and lecturers now offer more than 180 Cardinal Courses across 55 departments and programs. Last year, 2,800 students enrolled in these opportunities to integrate academic learning with hands-on service experience. 

Faculty have integrated community engagement into courses across disciplines in a variety of ways. Courses range from small seminars to larger lecture classes, and community partners range from local schools to the U.S. Department of State. Service elements vary and may include program design and evaluation, coding, hands-on tutoring, or internships at local organizations—all to benefit a community or partner organization. Faculty structure the learning to incorporate a community experience, examine public issues, and help students explore their civic identities.

In the last four years, the number of community engaged learning courses has more than quadrupled. A team of six Directors of Community Engaged Learning (DCELs) support faculty and community partners in a broad range of thematic areas: education, engineering, environmental sustainability, health, human rights, and race and identity. Faculty receive course grants; funding for undergraduate assistants; and support from the DCEL team in establishing community partnerships and designing, implementing, and evaluating curricular elements. (Learn more here.)

“Through Cardinal Courses, Stanford is redesigning teaching and learning by placing community engagement at the fore of academic excellence,” said Senior Vice Provost for Education Harry Elam, Jr. “As we look to the future, these courses will play an instrumental role in strengthening and expanding the university’s mission of advancing knowledge and applying it for the benefit of humanity.”

The videos showcase faculty teaching Cardinal Courses on diverse topics, from educating visitors in California’s iconic redwood forests, to podcasting stories of community policing with the Menlo Park Police Department, to assessing health programs for vulnerable populations in local clinics.

For more stories of service at Stanford, see our Cardinal Service Stories blog.

Cardinal Courses are part of Cardinal Service, a university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education.