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VPUE Directors of Community Engaged Learning

In partnership with the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Haas Center is spearheading several initiatives aimed at strengthening and expanding community-based learning opportunities for undergraduates.

“Community engaged learning not only advances the fundamental aims of a Stanford education, it also exemplifies the fundamental character of the institution.”
Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University(SUES), 2012

The Community Engaged Learning Program, a partnership between the Haas Center for Public Service and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, seeks to expand community engaged learning opportunities, including service-learning courses and public service internships, for undergraduates across the university.


The directors of community engaged learning (DCELs) work collaboratively with each of Stanford’s seven schools and campus programs, departments and institutes to promote, support and expand community-based learning opportunities for Stanford undergraduates.


Suzanne Gaulocher recently relocated from Wisconsin, where she completed her doctorate from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She also received a master’s of public health from UW's School of Medicine and Public Health and a master’s from Oregon State University in medical anthropology. Her research focuses on the intersection of human health and the environment with a focus on community engagement and equity. Before coming to Stanford, Suzanne worked at UW’s University Health Services as a researcher and evaluator. Most recently, she worked on the Center for Disease Control’s Community Transformation Grant. Prior to that, she was part of a team providing support and evaluation nationwide for Communities Putting Prevention to Work, in which storytelling was used as a tool to improve health policy and communication at the local level.

Human Rights

Chiseche Salome Mibenge received her PhD in International Human Rights Law from Utrecht University’s School of Law in 2010. She has published widely on armed conflict, transitional justice and gender based violence. As part of her doctoral training, Chiseche conducted fieldwork in Rwanda and Sierra Leone and clerked at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She has been invited as an international visiting scholar to leading research centers including: American University’s Center for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies. As an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, Chiseche taught international law courses. Her community work in NYC included acting as an Advocate for survivors in emergency departments under the North Central Bronx Hospital Sexual Assault Treatment Program. She is a creative nonfiction writer and the editor in chief of the Alchemist, an e-zine dedicated to the advancement of girls and women in Zambia, her country of birth.


Paitra Houts received her Master's in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford's Graduate School of Education in 2008. After graduating Paitra spent her time serving the youth in our community at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, as a School Site Director and more recently as the Director of Partnerships and Volunteer Services. Through these roles she supported over 600 volunteers and partners to make an impact on the lives of our local youth, helping build connections and opportunities. It is this commitment to service and education that brings her to Stanford. She is excited to work with faculty and students to help integrate service into their learning experience. In her spare time Paitra enjoys cooking for friends and family, learning about the games industry from her husband, swimming, and practicing yoga.


Shoshanah Cohen received her BS in Industrial Engineering from Stanford as well as an MA in Technology Strategy from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She started her career working in manufacturing and spent more than 20 years in the field of global operations before moving to academia. Shoshanah was formerly a senior partner with PRTM Management Consultants, where she led PRTM’s global Supply Chain Innovation practice. She has written two books and numerous articles focused on supply chain strategy. Most recently, she served as the Director of the Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum, an industry-academic partnership housed at the Graduate School of Business. She currently serves a Lecturer in the Management Science and Engineering department, where she teaches project-based experiential learning courses. Shoshanah is actively engaged in local community organizations focused on public education and services for underserved students. She is a passionate advocate for girls in STEM and coaches a robotics team comprised of girls from 25 high schools. She is also an avid ice hockey player and fan.

Environmental Sustainability

Sarah Truebe, '07, MS ’07, is completing her doctorate in geosciences (paleoclimatology) and global change at the University of Arizona. She uses stalagmites from caves in the southwestern U.S. to learn about changes in rainfall over the last few thousand years. Prior to her doctoral training, Sarah received both a bachelor’s and master’s in earth systems from Stanford, where she studied climate science, global change, biogeochemistry and human-environment interaction. Throughout her time at Stanford and the University of Arizona, Sarah has worked to engage youth in the sciences, as both a volunteer with Stanford's GeoKids! and the cofounder of Arizona's Geosciences Saturday Academy. Sarah is a passionate caver, having served as the chair of the Arizona Regional Association of the National Speleological Society, and has also been known to play piccolo with the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.


The Community Engaged Learning Program emerged as one of the main recommendations of the SUES. The report called for community-based learning courses and public service internships that would “thoughtfully and purposefully connect students’ service in the community with their academic work.” In that spirit, the DCELs work with departments and programs, faculty, and undergraduates to deepen and expand opportunities to apply their academic learning in community settings.

This effort builds upon a strong foundation in engaged learning at Stanford. Since 1985, the Haas Center for Public Service has supported faculty in developing service-learning courses and advised faculty and students in carrying out community-based research projects. A number of departments and programs across Stanford have also dedicated staff to supporting engaged learning, including the Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity, Urban Studies, the History Department, and the Office of Community Health. The DCELs work closely with these and other colleagues across campus and in the community to further expand opportunities for engaged learning.


Faculty support and course development: The DCELs support faculty in modifying existing courses and creating new courses that include a community-based learning component. Community-based learning includes course activities that meet academic learning goals through structured off-campus experiences. These courses often partner with community organizations in a way that meets both academic learning goals and real community needs. Working with faculty, the DCELs can help identify community partnerships, develop clear learning goals and expectations for the community-based component, and assist in preparing students for their community placement, among other things. We look forward to working with you to design your course! 

Student internships: The DCELS work with academic departments and programs to expand opportunities for community-based internships for undergraduates. They support student placement, preparation, and reflection, and help students find ways to connect their internships to broader academic and career goals. One aim is to approach leading organizations in education, health, and environmental sustainability to create rich and rewarding internship positions for undergraduate students.

For more information, please contact:

Learn more about how to teach a community-engaged learning class.