Stanford University’s Cardinal Service Initiative

Stanford University’s Cardinal Service Initiative


Service is very grounding and humbling. I
think service has largely made me the person that I am today and the person
that I aspire to be tomorrow. This one’s nitrogen. Cardinal service is a new
initiative that’s being launched this year to really make service a more
integral component of the Stanford experience. The Cardinal Service
initiative has four main components: Cardinal Courses, Cardinal Commitment,
Cardinal Careers, and Cardinal Quarter. Cardinal Service tries to innovate by
making service part of the educational offerings at the university by providing
opportunities to bring the interdisciplinary education that we’re
so well known for to the role of figuring out how to make a contribution
to a larger community. But I think it’s also part of a trend towards more
experiential learning as a core part of what Stanford students do. Faculty across all departments have bubbled up these different service learning opportunities
for students – different courses, different programs – and each one takes a different
form, has a different structure. It allows you to engage in a lot of different
facets of service that students don’t really think about or have heard of, things like activism, philanthropy, policy, politics. Students are invited then to
look at their own goals and their own values and think about how they want to
pursue their own personal and professional careers. We know from the data that students who’ve become engaged in in-depth community service
opportunities while they’re undergraduates repeat that through their lives. They go back, they get involved, they establish a tradition of giving back and committing to the public. The Cardinal Service initiative is reigniting the flame of service that was
actually part of Stanford’s DNA from the very beginning, when Jane Stanford said
that the purpose of a Stanford education was to prepare students to be of
greater service to the public. It became clear we also had to make sure that we
provided financial support for our students so that students from all backgrounds
could engage in public service. Service is such an integral part of life. It
gives you these building blocks of empathy and compassion and it’s
grounding, it’s how we engage with the community, how we engage with people. And I think that is such a valuable experience and I hope to see the student
body really rise up to that challenge.

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