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Community Engaged Learning Courses

The Haas Center for Public Service designates Community Engaged Learning courses as "Cardinal Courses" according to the following:

  1. Community Partner Preparation for Service: Ideally, before the class begins, there is a clearly identified community partner with whom course expectations have been clarified; however, some courses may require that community partnerships be formed after the class begins (based on pre-existing student interests or relationships). Suggested aspects of partnership development include clarifying expectations for communication, agreeing on protocols for interaction with community, and developing a mutual understanding of what work will be accomplished.
  2. Student Preparation for Service: The syllabus or related course assignments clearly articulates how students will be prepared for the service experience.
  3. Service Benefits Community Partner: Student service work directly relates to a community identified need and benefits partner organization. Students are required to spend a predetermined amount of hours on work that benefits community partner(s). This service may include direct service that takes place on site, or research or other off-site work that benefits the partner(s).
  4. Integration of Service and Academic Coursework: The course includes an assignment (e.g., project or product) that demonstrates the integration of service work and academic course content.
  5. Reflection: Students engage in a carefully articulated reflection process around the ethical and civic dimensions of the service, the discipline, and themselves.

URBANST 164: Sustainable Cities

Over the past ten years, over 200 Stanford University students have completed projects for the Sustainable Cities class in collaboration with Bay Area non-profit organizations and government agencies, including Redwood City, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Friends of Caltrain, the San Mateo County Health Department, the City of San Jose and Resilient Oakland Initiative. 

Learn more about Sustainable Cities 

Projects include:

URBANST 164 Project Examples
Two student mapping project examples


Two student mapping project examples


URBANST 141: Gentrification (Offered Spring, Alternate Years)


Neighborhoods in the Bay Area and around the world are undergoing a transformation known as  gentrification. Middle- and upper-income people are moving into what were once low-income areas, and housing costs are on the rise. Tensions between “newcomers” and “old-timers,” who are often separated by race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, can erupt; high rents may force long-time residents to leave. In this class, students move beyond simplistic media depictions to explore the complex history, nature, causes, and consequences of this process. Students learn through readings, films, class discussions, and engagement with a local community organization. 

Previous classes have partnered with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Faith in Action, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, and People Acting in Community Together. Projects have ranged from policy briefs to support for a social media campaign to the production of videos and website construction. 

URBANST 141 Project Examples

Projects in Spring 2016 included a collaboration with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto exploring case studies of communities facing displacement pressures; a project with Faith in Action to create a social media strategy and Facebook page to support a signature campaign for rent stabilization; and a qualitative study of Tenderloin residents' experiences of displacement in conjunction with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Their final presentations include: 

Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto - Group A

Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto - Group B

Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

Faith in Action

Projects in Spring 2018 included the creation of Renters of Silicon Valley, a compilation of narratives about housing affordability and commuting by Stanford staff members, as well as videos created for the Mountain View Tenants Coalition (a CLSEPA client) and Measure V.


URBANST 150: From Gold Rush to Google Bus: The History of San Francisco (Offered Spring, Alternate Years)

This class partners with Shaping San Francisco, a not-for-profit participatory community history project whose mission is to document and archive overlooked stories and memories of San Francisco. Students in the class produce content for Shaping San Francisco’s website, As a final project for the class, each student writes an essay that is designed to work as an article on FoundSF; those projects that meet the website’s standards become published entries.