Scholars in Service Program
Scholars in Service is a program of Stanford Impact Labs in partnership with the Haas Center for Public Service.
The Scholars in Service Program is intended to complement and extend existing leave and sabbatical opportunities at Stanford with a primary focus on the exchange of learning and expertise around an identified social problem. Financial and staff resources will be provided to support placements in public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Placements are designed to support in-depth, hands-on learning about a social problem and existing approaches to address it, with the potential to help generate new research insights and/or research applications. The ideal placement will enable the exchange of complementary skills and expertise, and should both add value to the hosting organization and help to advance the faculty member’s thinking about their own research. Applicants can identify and negotiate their own partnerships, or work with the Stanford Impact Labs and Haas Center team to identify an appropriate placement.
Curious about applying? Submit an expression of interest form to learn more.
Specific funding amounts will vary depending on circumstances and need, but all awardees are eligible to receive funding support to cover (but not exceed) salary and fringe gaps corresponding with the duration of the leave. Due to budget constraints and the many applications we receive, we expect to offer a maximum of two quarters of full-time salary support. We encourage faculty to combine with any available sabbatical credit to allow for longer leaves, if desired. Please see this FAQ page for more information about eligible direct costs.
Our team can help to identify credible and realistic partner organizations for placements when the applicant does not already have a specific placement in mind. For all finalists, we will review, vet, and work with the potential host organization to ensure they are a good fit for the purposes of the leave program and faculties' interests, and will provide ongoing support in preparation and for the duration of the leave to promote positive experiences and outcomes.
PI-eligible Stanford scholars may apply. Leave eligibility will vary across schools and departments and depend on the status of the individual applicant.
For all circumstances, applicants will need to explore the feasibility and logistics of taking leave within their respective schools/departments, and placements will only be confirmed with the consent of the respective department Chair and school Dean. Interested applicants are encouraged to review the Faculty Handbook section on Sabbaticals and Other Leaves of Absence.
For questions associated with the Scholars in Service program, please contact Luke Terra.
We expect that applicants will have varying levels of experience with problem-focused research and engagement with external partners and potential host organizations. For those newer to this type of engagement, the placement may serve primarily as a learning exchange, helping to better understand the social problem and different approaches to its resolution, with the host organization benefiting from the faculty member’s scholarly expertise. For those with prior experience, the exchange may serve to advance existing partnerships, with a focus on driving evidence-driven programs or policies. What is most important is that there is a compelling case that the placement is generative, with clear learning opportunities for both the applicant and host organization, and the potential to contribute towards progress on a social problem.
Applicants should be able to clearly articulate their intentions and goals for the leave, including:
- How the Scholars in Service experience will enhance the applicant’s own understanding of the social problem and advance their research agenda
- The anticipated ways in which the placement will benefit the partner organization
- How the partnership and exchange can contribute positively towards progress on a well-defined social problem
In addition, competitive applicants will:
- Demonstrate a commitment to both scholarly research and public service
- Exhibit curiosity, humility, and a learning mindset
- Recognize and appreciate the complementary expertise of hosting institutions
- Communicate clearly the opportunities for learning and exchange
Application Process & Timeline
- Submit an expression of interest form by January 23, 2023
- Those advancing will be invited to interview in late January
- Those advancing will be invited to explore budgeting and logistics in late February
- We will offer preliminary award letters in early March
- Following a final screening of the host organization and candidate, including approval on all logistical matters from the respective department/school and approval of the proposed scope of work in coordination with the host organization, final awards will be announced on a rolling basis in March and April
- Placements may begin as early as June 2023 and extend through September 2024
A December 8 panel presentation about the program featured Stanford faculty members Jim Fearon, Gopi Shah Goda, and Ira Lit, as well as Stanford Impact Labs Faculty Director Jeremy Weinstein. View the recording: Stanford Faculty Go to Washington: A Conversation on Bridging Research and Policy
For questions associated with the Scholars in Service program, please contact Luke Terra (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Director and Director of Community Engaged Learning and Research at the Haas Center.
What salary support is offered?
Specific funding amounts will vary depending on circumstances and need, but all awardees are eligible to receive funding support to cover (but not exceed) salary and fringe gaps corresponding with the duration of the leave. Due to budget constraints and the many applications we receive, we expect to offer a maximum of two quarters of full-time salary support. We encourage faculty to combine with any available sabbatical credit to allow for longer leaves, if desired.
What direct costs qualify for support?
Aside from salary support, direct costs that may include travel, temporary housing, and/or office and field resources will be approved on a case-by-case basis and depending on budget availability. Our intention is to alleviate financial constraints that would prohibit timely and effective placements. Criteria for approval include adherence to Stanford’s financial policies on reasonable costs and travel and lodging and in alignment with the program mission. In some circumstances, pending budget availability, we will consider requests related to alleviating the burden on the host organization.
Does Scholars in Service provide funding for students or administrative staff?
In order to best leverage our limited funds, we prioritize funding salary and direct costs for the faculty member taking the leave. Where additional administrative support is needed, our preference is to add capacity within the host organization rather than to fund student/staff positions at Stanford.
What is the scope of housing and relocation support that is offered for longer-term lodging?
Stanford offers financial guidelines around long-term stays and the rate of reimbursement that individual units may offer. While our intention is to alleviate financial constraints that would prohibit timely and effective placements, we may exercise discretion when providing long-term housing support. For example, we assume that faculty taking an extended leave would rent out their primary residence and not require additional housing support. However, we will consider supplemental housing costs for shorter-term leaves.
The coverage of relocation costs, if any, will be determined once all participating faculty have confirmed plans and if the program budget allows. If offered, relocation support will be paid as an administrative supplement.
Do leaves need to be timed in accordance with the academic calendar?
We are flexible and responsive to what timing would be best for you and your partners.
Does the application require an identified partner organization?
No, you are not required to have an existing connection with your desired host or partner organization. Stanford Impact Labs and the Haas Center for Public Service can work with you to identify an organization that aligns with your project goals, and/or work to explore and establish a relationship with a relevant organization.
Does the program require 100% FTE engagement for the duration of the leave?
The goal of the program is to enable immersive experiences for faculty in organizational settings to deepen their knowledge of and engagement with pressing public problems. We feel these experiences are most effective when faculty can devote their full attention to their leave, and so give preference to candidates who can commit to full-time placements. However, we understand the other competing commitments that faculty will have, such as ongoing grants, and will work individually with applicants to ensure they can meet ongoing responsibilities while participating in the program, if selected. For faculty proposing shorter leaves (e.g., one quarter at full-time), we have also supported one quarter at a reduced percentage before or after to allow for transitions.
What is the process for finalizing a placement with the Scholars in Service program?
Scholars in Service applications are typically due in early January, followed by interviews with select candidates. We work closely with candidates who advance from the interview round to finalize their placements and the scope of their projects in February and March. Before a final award is offered, candidates are required to submit a letter of support from their dean, confirm the placement with their host organization, and develop a workplan summarizing the goals and proposed outcomes of their leave.
How do I navigate a potential leave with my school/department?
We will not be in direct contact with your dean or department chair. We assume that is your responsibility, and that you will address any obligations to your school/department with your respective leadership. We do require a letter of support from your Dean upon selection in order to finalize your award, and we also encourage you to navigate those conversations in advance to avoid any surprises or restrictions that may prohibit you from participating.
What are the reporting requirements or other expectations of Scholars in Service?
At the end of the leave, we will ask for a final report on the experience that reflects on the goals and outcomes of the leave and any next steps planned to advance the research or partnership with the host organization.
What does ‘success’ look like?
Outcomes of the leave experience will vary, depending on the specific applicant and placement, but ‘success’ is generally envisioned as the extent to which the leave placement positively contributes towards:
- Deeper contextual understanding of a social problem: this opportunity should allow for more awareness about the problem, including the more operational aspects of addressing it, such as who are the key stakeholders and what are the relevant policies and programs affecting the current status of and potential solutions to the social problem.
- New research insights and partnerships: the experience, including the immersive interaction with individuals and teams at the host organization, should generate new research insights for both the faculty member and organization, and may contribute towards a longer-term research partnership.
- Benefits to the host organization: the placement should offer meaningful service to the host organization, allowing them to benefit from the faculty member’s research expertise, possibly generating evidence-based, innovative approaches, and ultimately helping to advance objectives within the organization.
- Positive public impact: in achieving the above, both the faculty member and host organization are better positioned to make tractable progress on solutions to an identified social problem.
How is this different from other leave and sabbatical programs at Stanford?
The primary objectives of this leave program are to support your learning to develop a better understanding of the context in which your research applies, and the exchange of expertise between you and practitioners. The leave should also help advance scientific insights and the development of your research (e.g. generating new research questions and hypotheses; better understanding causal mechanisms and practical barriers that prevent certain outcomes from materializing; exploring new datasets or developing new survey instruments). However, it is not intended to advance your own research solely for academic purposes. The focus, instead, is on supporting experiences that generate learning and research to advance solutions to social problems.
Are there specific social issues that will be prioritized over others?
We are problem agnostic, meaning that we do not have priors on which issues should be addressed over others, but the social problem being addressed should clearly relate to the applicant’s own expertise and research.
Are there specific disciplines that are eligible or will be prioritized over others?
This program is available to PI-eligible faculty, researchers, and educators across all schools and departments.
How do I know if I’m eligible to take leave?
PI-eligible faculty, researchers, and educators may apply fo the program. Please consult with your department or school if you are unclear about your status.
For all circumstances, applicants will need to explore the feasibility and logistics of taking leave within their respective schools/departments, and placements will only be confirmed with the consent of the respective department Chair and Dean. Applicants should consult the Faculty Handbook section on Sabbaticals and Other Leaves of Absence for more information about university leave.
Do I need to have earned sabbatical credit to apply?
No, it is not required to apply earned sabbatical credits for this opportunity. However, applicants that propose to use earned sabbatical credit to cover some portion of the proposed leave may be able to extend the duration of their leave.
For how long is the leave placement?
Resources are available for a minimum of one and maximum of four quarters of leave support, during the summer or academic calendar, depending on the request and rationale proposed by the applicant.
What other kinds of support can I expect to receive from Stanford Impact Labs staff?
The Stanford Impact Labs and Haas Center team will support the search for host organizations, as needed. For all awardees – those with and without pre-identified partners – Stanford Impact Labs and Haas Center team will support outreach, vetting, and navigation of logistics with the potential host organization (HR, legal compliance, etc.), as well as preparation strategies and tools to promote the best possible experiences and outcomes for faculty and practitioners.
Do I need to have a potential host organization already identified?
Not necessarily. You may already have a specific organization in mind, or you can request support for identifying and engaging with an organization that is most likely to be the best fit for your leave purposes.
What is the application, review, and placement timeline?
- An expression of interest form is due January 23, 2023
- Those advancing will be invited to interview in late January
- Following a final screening of the host organization and candidate, including approval of all logistic-related matters from her/his department/school, final decisions will be made by the end of February
- Placements may begin as early as June 2023 and extend through September 2024
Stanford Impact Labs enables teams of Stanford scholars to work with the public, social, and private sectors to tackle social problems using human creativity, rigorous evidence, and innovative technology. We advance this mission by supporting rigorous, problem-focused research and learning opportunities across a diversity of social problems with the goal of achieving broad public impact.
We define a “social problem” as a challenge that: has collective, rather than solely individual, implications; affects a large number of people; has a number of complex and interrelated causes; reflects a failure of markets, governments, and other institutions; and cannot be understood or solved without an understanding of the human behaviors, institutions, and systems involved.
Our focus is on addressing concrete, social problems through research that leverages theoretical advances and methodological innovations to drive the discovery and testing of practical, evidence-based solutions. This often requires an iterative mix of problem exploration, design of possible solutions, evaluation of the effects of attempted solutions, and considerations of scaling-up solutions.
Our approach is rooted in partnership. Through our programs, we seek to spur and strengthen the process of learning, exchange, and co-creation between researchers and practitioners to jointly frame problems, develop research and learning agendas, generate and test hypotheses, iterate on intervention strategies, and scale solutions. These partnerships are foundational to the process of leveraging scientific discovery to drive social change.
Areas & Methods of Focus
Stanford Impact Labs does not have a fixed set of problems it is seeking to tackle. Instead, it is designed to be agile, flexible, and responsive to the changing issues in society, the priorities and concerns of the university’s external partners, and the shifting interests of Stanford faculty, staff, and students. Moreover, Stanford Impact Labs does not privilege a particular method. Methods and approaches should match the problem as specified and reflect a shared understanding among researchers and external partners about the kind of research that will prove most valuable to driving new insights towards solving the social problem.