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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.63
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date July 30, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Stanford University
EN-13: Community Stakeholder Engagement

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution adopted a framework for community stakeholder engagement in governance, strategy and operations?:

A brief description of the policies and procedures that ensure community stakeholder engagement is applied systematically and regularly across the institution’s activities:

The University is committed to working with our local community members and neighbors to ensure that our campus is planned, built and operated in harmony with community interests. Successful community engagement is not an accident. It requires careful planning, consultation and collaboration with the community and local jurisdictions along with effective execution and financial resources. Being a good neighbor enhances both the community and the university.
Stanford University’s Office of Public Affairs and more specifically the Office of Government and Community Relations (GCR) coordinates and facilitates Stanford's interactions with local, state and federal governments, as well as its relationship with neighboring communities.

GCR promotes the interests of the University's faculty, students and staff through contact with public officials, involvement with educational organizations, tracking of pertinent legislation and lobbying on behalf of the University on a wide variety of issues from land use policies to funding for the basic sciences.

The GCR also serves as a liaison between Stanford and its neighboring communities by maintaining relations with numerous community-based organizations and individuals while also supporting the campus-community that contributes to the vitality of the greater community. Annual Community Partnership Awards (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/govcr/community-partnership-awards) are awarded each year to honor the valuable partnerships that exist between Stanford and its neighbors, and to celebrate community efforts that successfully tackle real world problems and advance the public good.

A brief description of how the institution identifies and engages community stakeholders, including any vulnerable or underrepresented groups:

Academic Focused Community Engagement

Stanford’s founding grant states the university’s “object” succinctly: “to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life.” Today, more than a century later, we still subscribe to that goal. But we also hope for more. We want our students not simply to succeed but to flourish; we want them to live not only usefully but also creatively, responsibly, and reflectively.

In January 2010, Provost John Etchemendy and then Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education John Bravman launched “The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University” (SUES). SUES was asked to examine the undergraduate experience at Stanford and make “recommendations for affirming or modifying our current undergraduate academic requirements.” In particular, it was asked “What do we want our students to gain from their time on the Farm?” and “How do we best prepare them for local, national, and global citizenship?”

An essential aim of a Stanford education is if our graduates are to assume the responsibilities of local, national, and global citizenship, they need not only deep knowledge and well-honed skills but also a wider set of characteristics and competencies: a sense of personal and social responsibility; ethical and moral reasoning skills; an appreciation of cultural difference, as well as of human commonality; the ability to work collaboratively in diverse teams; tolerance, generosity, and a broad capacity for empathy.

With this in mind, many departments and programs have devised innovative courses and assignments that powerfully engage students without their having to venture far from the Farm. Students studying music, drama, and the studio arts routinely stage performances and exhibitions. Engineers work in teams to design, fabricate, and test products, working with actual clients. Students studying child development observe children at the Bing Nursery School, while students studying biology take courses at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, where many become docents. While relatively simple and inexpensive to administer, such exercises pay large educational dividends. They offer students a literal and figurative change of scenery, an opportunity to relate what they are learning in the classroom to the wider world.

Over the last generation, community-based learning has emerged as one of the most exciting fields in American higher education, a field that promises not only to deepen students’ education but also to reshape universities’ relationship to the wider world. Few if any enterprises hold more promise for building the essential capacities that our students need to function as responsible, reflective citizens at the local, national, and global levels. And few if any universities in the world have a greater opportunity to promote ethical, effective community-based learning than Stanford.

The SUES committee distinguishes “community-based learning” from what is commonly called “community service.” At Stanford, as at many other highly selective universities, community service is now a virtual requirement for admission, and most of our students have done a considerable amount of it before they arrive on campus. Many continue to engage in service at Stanford, some- times under university auspices, sometimes in independent organizations (some founded by students themselves). For a few, community service is the defining feature of their undergraduate educations.

Here, however, we wish to highlight something different—not service per se, but rather a specific kind of university-based learning. We are interested in particular in educational experiences that thoughtfully and purposefully connect students’ service in the community with their academic work. Like other forms of educational engagement, community-based learning provides opportunities for students to apply the knowledge and skills they are developing to the wider world, but it does so in a very particular context, with significant ethical and political implications. We believe that teaching students to think reflectively about the nature of their service work, to approach communities not just as beneficiaries of their aid but as partners in a common enterprise, will make the work more effective, ethical, enduring, and educational.

List of identified community stakeholders:

Below is a list of community stakeholders that Stanford University identified as part of its Searsville Dam and Reservoir Study:
Local governments
Local residents & community members
Local community groups (ex. Acterra, the Committee for Green Foothills, CalTrout, Santa Clara Audobon, American Rivers, Beyond Searsville Dam)
San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (JPA)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
California State Water Resources Control Board
Santa Clara Valley Water District

+ Date Revised: Nov. 5, 2014

A brief description of successful community stakeholder engagement outcomes from the previous three years:

Searsville Dam and Reservoir Study:

The Searsville Dam and Reservoir Study and the establishment of the Searsville Steering Committee and Working Group was implemented to assess what should be done with the 120-year-old dam, located in the university's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. This effort touches on many topics including land use, water systems, and sustainability.

The dam was built in 1892 by the for-profit Spring Valley Water Co. and acquired by the university in 1919. Today, sedimentation has reduced the reservoir to less than 10 percent of its original water capacity. The reservoir is one of several sources of non-potable water used at Stanford for landscape irrigation, agriculture and fire protection. The ecosystem created by the dam also is a key aspect of environmental research conducted at Jasper Ridge.

The steering committee is considering many possible options for Searsville Dam and the studies will cover some 20 subtopics, including, for example, dam structure and long-term integrity, downstream impacts from changes in sediment, fish passage and archaeological resources. Possible changes to be considered as part of the studies range from dredging the reservoir to bypassing the dam to altering or removing it. Also factored into the studies will be the possible effect of such occurrences as droughts, catastrophic storms and earthquakes.

The studies are also considering other issues related to Searsville, including alternatives to the current water supply and storage facilities, provision of fish passage, the change in the amount of sediment going downstream and options for removing accumulated sediment from 12 decades of deposition. Stanford is equally concerned about the steelhead population and has been working for more than a decade to improve the habitat for it and other protected species in the San Francisquito Creek watershed and on Stanford lands in general.

The effort has included the creation of an external advisory committee to help the university understand the community's perspective on the numerous options possible at Searsville Dam and Reservoir. Community representatives include residents from both upstream and downstream of the dam and reservoir, community based advocacy and environmental groups, local jurisdictional representatives and other stakeholders (see description in response to EN Credit 9: Community Partnerships).

Other community engagement activities are often conducted by community engagement oriented offices at Stanford. These include:

Office of Government & Community Relations
o http://www.stanford.edu/dept/govcr/
Community Partnership Awards
o http://www.stanford.edu/dept/govcr/community-partnership-awards/
Haas Center for Public Service
o http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/haas
John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
o http://gardnercenter.stanford.edu
The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University
o http://www.stanford.edu/dept/undergrad/sues/SUES_Report.pdf
Searsville Dam & Reservoir Study
o http://news.stanford.edu/searsville/

The website URL where information about the institution’s community stakeholder engagement framework and activities is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.