The Public Service Scholars Program (PSSP) is a year-round program that supports students’ efforts to write a thesis that is academically rigorous as well as informed by and useful to specific community organizations or public interest constituencies. Students participate in the PSSP during their senior or co-term year, concurrently with the honors program in their major academic department or interdisciplinary program of study. Students from all majors are welcome to apply for admission to PSSP.
The Haas Center established the Public Service Scholars Program in 1994 to encourage students to connect public service with their academic work and research interests through an honors thesis.
PSSP students, under the mentorship of the program director, form an interdisciplinary community of scholars who provide diverse perspectives and support while sharing the pursuit of outstanding academic research as a form of public service. PSSP students write theses in human biology; peace and conflict studies (an individually designed major); feminist studies; history; American studies; political science; urban studies; sociology; and science, technology, and society. The PSSP complements the requirements of students’ honors programs and the efforts of faculty advisors during the thesis-writing process. Early in autumn quarter, an overnight retreat provides the foundational community-building experience for the group.
PSSP offers the support, structure, and accountability necessary for the successful completion of participants’ theses. All program participants are required to enroll in Urban Studies 198: Senior Research in Public Service during the Autumn (3 units), Winter (3 units), and Spring (1 unit) Quarters of their senior year. The director of public service research and students co-facilitate the weekly seminar, which is designed to explore the theory and practice of research as a form of service and to provide students with opportunities to share their writing in small groups, solve problems collaboratively, and critique thesis plans, conceptual frameworks and methodologies.
By request, PSSP students can be matched with a Stanford staff, faculty or community member who serves as a mentor. The mentor relationship is highly individualized, but mentors typically provide advice and support to foster the public service dimension of the thesis research and to pursue larger questions of how this work relates to students’ lives and career goals.
During the course of the academic year, PSSP students develop public service plans by identifying audiences who might be interested in or benefit from their thesis research. Through this process, participants are challenged to make the link between scholarly research and the public good. Knowing their research will do more than “sit on a shelf” is a powerful motivation during the thesis-writing process.
In May, PSSP students present their thesis research along with its public service implications and applications during a mini-conference entitled “Research With a Public Purpose.” The presentation affords students an opportunity to share and celebrate the results of their yearlong work.
A Community of Scholars: an essay on the origins of PSSP written by PSSP alumni
If you are interested in theses written from 1995 to the present, please contact Clayton Hurd.
PSSP participation requirements:
Note: While not required, participation in the relevant Honors College program is strongly encouraged. Students whose departments do not offer an Honors College program may be able to participate in the one offered through the Program in Urban Studies.
PSSP Info sessions will be held on the following dates: Friday, April 27, 2018, at noon and Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at 3pm. Both sessions will be held in the Haas Center, Room 212.
Applications for the 2018-2019 are due on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 11:59pm PDT.
**Please note that a complete application includes the student application, the faculty advisor form, an unofficial transcript, and verification of acceptance into your honors program**
Please describe both your personal and academic reasons for applying to the program. Please ensure that you are thorough and specific in your responses to the questions. Please respond to each question separately; each response should be approximately one to two paragraphs in length.
Please describe the nature of your research project, your preparation for conducting research, and what you deem to be the practical applications of your research. Please ensure that you are thorough and specific in your responses to the questions. Please respond to each question separately; each response should be approximately one to two paragraphs in length.
Please describe what motivates your interest in, and commitment to, writing a senior honors thesis and developing a public service component to accompany it? What is your connection to the thesis topic, and what informs your desire to make an impact? What do you hope to learn from the experience? What impact do you hope you may have? Please limit your essay to 1000 words.
For more information about the Public Service Scholars Program, please contact Clayton Hurd.