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Public Service Leadership Program

PSLP class of 2017


The Public Service Leadership Program is designed for sophomores, juniors, and seniors from all majors who are actively involved with a public service project or organization. Through the winter quarter course EDUC 126A, students build skills and  work toward goals with the support of advisors and peer service leaders. Students who complete the course successfully will receive competitive priority for Cardinal Quarter opportunities.

Ensuring that our students are well-equipped to step up to leadership roles throughout their lives is an important aspect of the Haas Center’s work. Stanford students are creative and talented, and will be in positions of leadership or in positions where they can exercise leadership in public and community service if they have the will and confidence. During college they lead many service projects and programs and are responsible for planning and implementing services for community partners. Service will be better if the student group delivering it is well organized, offers training to its volunteers, has consistent volunteer participation, and an infrastructure that supports continuity of strong leadership. Student-led groups suffer when their leadership is weak, and the quality, reliability, and relevance of the service will also be weak. Student groups with strong leaders deliver better service to communities.

In 2005, the Haas Center launched the Public Service Leadership Program (PSLP), with the goal of developing thoughtful, skilled, and reflective practitioners equipped to effect social change. PSLP empowers students with a passion for the environment, health care, conflict resolution, and numerous other issues to build their knowledge of public service leadership theory, become reflective practitioners, and synthesize their leadership learning.

Program objectives:

  • Facilitate leadership learning and skill-building for public service student leaders.
  • Develop a strong community of peer leaders who learn with and from each other throughout their Stanford experiences.
  • Provide high quality public service preparation to student-led service organizations so that they can provide more intentional, ethical, and effective public service.

Program Components

Foundations of Leadership

Participants will gain an appreciation of leadership development as a field of study as well as comprehension of a leadership model and its practices and values in the context of service. Participants will satisfy this requirement by completing the Introduction to Public Service Leadership course in Winter Quarter.

Participants will attend three skill-building workshops on topics such as those listed below:

  • conflict resolution
  • leadership transition
  • motivation and leadership
  • public speaking
  • delegation
  • meeting management/facilitation
  • public service job search
  • vision and goal setting
  • strategic planning
  • networking and relationship building

Participants will complete self-assessments such as the following:

  • StrengthsQuest
  • Leadership Practices Inventory
  • MBTI Personality Assessment

Participants will gain exposure to individuals who can serve as model leaders in public service through community leader interviews. These leaders will represent various aspects of the public service spectrum (i.e., direct service, philanthropy, advocacy, government, etc.) and should be working in the student's field of interest. A paper explaining lessons learned will be submitted for each community leader interview.

Leadership Practice

The Leadership Program requires participants to be actively involved in leading a public service project or organization. The practice component will provide a context or "laboratory" for developing leadership skills and a personal approach to leadership. It will also be a focal point for the personal and group reflection activities that are a part of the program.

Qualifying leadership experiences include

  • coordinating a significant public service project for a student organization, outside nonprofit, government agency, or philanthropy
  • leadership position within a community service student organization
  • tutor coordinator for PreSchool Counts, Science in Service, Ravenswood Reads,  EPASA
  • leading an Alternative Spring Break  experience
  • leadership position with ASSU
  • leadership position within a community center or as a residence hall staff member
  • leadership position in other student organizations on a case-by-case basis

Participants are required to engage in structured reflection opportunities, both verbal and written, to assess their leadership experiences and determine what public service leadership means to them. Much of the reflection activity will be centered on the participant's leadership practice experience. Reflection sessions will provide an opportunity for participants to connect with each other, share what they are experiencing and learning through their leadership practice activity, and learn from each other's experiences.

Synthesizing Leadership Learning

Participants will complete a Leadership Learning Plan outlining their personal goals and expectations regarding their leadership development. This will also include proposed objectives demonstrating how they will be intentional about achieving their goals.

Each participant is assigned to a public service advisor and expected to meet with the advisor at least twice during the program. The purpose of the advising sessions is to provide participants a chance to revisit and revise learning plans, provide program assessments, synthesize learning from various components of the program, and discuss future goals and opportunities.

Participants will establish and maintain a Leadership Learning Portfolio including assessment, reflection, and evaluation materials. The purpose of the portfolio is to encourage participants to be actively engaged in the ongoing synthesis of their learning and leadership development.

Upon completion of the program, each participant will be eligible for a $250 Leadership Enhancement Grant to use toward further leadership development.


Applications for the Public Service Leadership Program are not being accepted at this time.

A complete Public Service Leadership Program application includes answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you hope to gain or learn through the Public Service Leadership Program? (150 words max.)
  2. What is your intended leadership practice area, and what impact do you hope to make this year in your leadership practice area? (For examples of leadership practice areas, see "Leadership Practice" above as well as these profiles of recent PSLP participants.) (150 words max.)


  1. Do I have to have a formal leadership role with a public service organization to be eligible for PSLP?
    No. You just need to be actively involved with a public service project or organization, on or off campus, for the duration of the program. Active involvement means you carry a substantial level of responsibility for your project or organization.
  2. Can I apply for PSLP if I have another class/commitment that will conflict with part of the time for EDUC 126A (Wednesdays 4:30-6:20pm in the Haas Center DK Room)?
    No. To apply for PSLP, you need to commit to attending all EDUC 126A class sessions in their entirety.
  3. Do I need to enroll in EDUC 126A for credit?
    Yes. Enrolling in EDUC 126A for credit (2 units) during the winter is required.

Contact Information

For more information, contact Kristy Lobo.