Students enrolled in Stanford-in-Beijing service learning course gather for a picture

Students of URBANST 102 at Stanford in Beijing. Photo credit: Deland Chan

Community engaged learning is a hallmark of an Urban Studies education.

Main content start

Community Engaged Learning

Community engaged learning enables students to apply what they learn in the classroom to a real-world urban challenge by integrating academic coursework with public service.

What is Service Learning or Community Engaged Learning?

Service-learning is defined as "a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning." Jacoby, Service-Learning in Higher Education, 1996.

Instructor and students sitting a table for an urban studies lesson

Our courses encourage students to see the link between theory and practice, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and gain fluency in cross-cultural collaboration and communication.

All Urban Studies majors will have an opportunity to participate in a community engaged learning experience as part of their course of study. This is also an opportunity for students to explore potential career paths and prepare for summer fellowship experiences, honors thesis research, or senior capstone work.

The Urban Studies Community Engaged Learning and Internship Guide provides more details on ways to fulfill the capstone requirement. 

Students can fulfill their community engaged learning requirement through one of four pathways:

Enroll in an Urban Studies Approved Course

1. (Recommended): Enroll in a course approved by Urban Studies (see Course Project Gallery)

  • URBANST 164: Sustainable Cities
  • URBANST 141: Gentrification

Please note that NOT all Haas Center fellowships or Cardinal Courses automatically fulfill the Urban Studies major community-engaged learning requirement. Other classes with a significant community-engaged learning component may count towards the requirement. Requests should be submitted through the Course Substitution Petition and approved by the Program Co-Director. We recommend that you confirm before enrolling in the course as to whether it can meet the community engaged-learning component.

Complete an Independent Internship

2. Complete an independent internship in a government agency or a non-profit/community organization relevant to the major while enrolled in URBANST 201A.

Students who intern for a private sector organization may receive credit for URBANST 194, but cannot enroll in URBANST 201A credits to meet the capstone requirement. Please note that credit for the internship must be arranged prior to the internship commencing. The Urban Studies Program does not grant credit for internships midway through or after the internship has been completed.

For more opportunities through the Haas Center for Public Service, please see Cardinal Quarter opportunities.

Conduct Research

3. Conduct research with the guidance of a faculty mentor

See Urban Studies Departmental Research Program for latest opportunities.

Obtain a Cardinal Service Notation from the Haas Center

4. Complete Haas Center for Public Service requirements for the Cardinal Service notation.

The community engaged learning experience must consist primarily of substantive work. In all cases, students must work with a supervisor at the organization to establish learning goals through the  Learning Objectives Agreement and create deliverables– such as papers, reports, presentations, or models – demonstrating that they have achieved those goals. 

Additional Resources