SIL and Haas Announce New Cohort of Scholars in Service

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Line drawing of the globe

We are delighted to announce the newest Stanford faculty members chosen to participate in Scholars in Service, a collaborative program of Stanford Impact Labs and the Haas Center for Public Service, now in its fourth year. 

Professor Desiree LaBeaud, Professor of Pediatrics, will work with the Health and Environmental Research Institute, a Kenyan nonprofit. Professor Ariel Mayse, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, will work with East Bay Jewish environmental community organization, Urban Adamah.

Scholars in Service supports Stanford faculty to take a period of leave from the university and embed themselves within a government or nonprofit organization. The program provides financial and professional support so faculty can exchange ideas and learn with practitioners so as to generate new research insights and explore practical applications. 

It is an opportunity for faculty to develop partnerships and gain an in-depth understanding of the policy and programmatic context related to their area of scholarship, thus informing their future research and teaching.

Addressing pollution to improve health outcomes

Pollution, beyond its many environmental risks, presents serious health risks to humans, including epidemiological concerns related to mosquito-borne diseases and airborne toxins. Desiree LaBeaud, whose epidemiology research focuses on infectious diseases, will take leave to work at the Kenyan nonprofit Health and Environmental Research Institute (HERI), an organization that connects scientists, community residents, and public officials to improve public health and environmental conditions. 

LaBeaud will work with HERI in their collaboration with local partners to circularize an economy of waste (circular economies reuse materials in a sustainable life cycle) in Kwale County, Kenya to foster entrepreneurship resulting in sustainable improvements to environmental and human health. Specifically, she will collaborate with the community to design and test business programs to repurpose waste for profit, while monitoring both economic and health benefits of the interventions. “I’m excited for the opportunity to contribute to important work that aligns community incentives with those of public health to achieve sustainability,” said LaBeaud.

Building community at the intersection of Jewish tradition and environmental sustainability

Ariel Mayse, a scholar of Jewish Studies, will take a leave-in-service at Urban Adamah, an organization in Berkeley, California that provides farm-based community building experiences that integrate Jewish tradition, mindfulness, sustainable agriculture, and social action. Professor Mayse, whose scholarship is, in part, focused on Jewish thought and theology for constructing contemporary environmental ethics, will collaborate with Urban Adamah’s staff to integrate scholarly Jewish thought into the design of public facing programs and curriculum. Additionally, Mayse will work with participants in Urban Adamah’s residency program, a service and learning fellowship for young adults.

Mayse hopes to learn from Urban Adamah how to develop programming that is both effective and action-oriented, and how to blend educational environments with immersive, hands-on, practical experience. He also hopes to connect with other faith-based and environmental organizers and organizations across the East Bay, to learn how to foster community and organize around environmental issues. “I’m deeply interested in moving my ideas beyond the academy, and being shaped by (and contributing to) local social action and justice work,” said Mayse.

Program goals

The goal of the Scholars in Service program is to engage faculty in immersive placements with government agencies and nonprofit organizations where they can make a contribution in a way that also enhances their scholarship and teaching. In previous cohorts, scholars have served with a variety of public and nonprofit partners, at the community, state, federal, and international level, on topics including health equity, education, national security, and economic policy.

“Through the Scholars in Service program, Stanford faculty bring their research expertise and training to organizations running programs, advocating for change, or generating and implementing policy solutions,” said Jeremy Weinstein, faculty director of Stanford Impact Labs and professor of political science. “My own experience taking a leave in service in the federal government taught me that these in-depth exchanges position faculty to learn directly from experts working on the frontlines and can spark new research ideas and scholarly directions. They also position our faculty to work closely with and learn from those professional leaders who are working everyday to improve the well-being of people in our local communities and across the world.”