SLS graduates rely on their training to serve people and shape solutions in many sectors—education, health, energy, criminal justice, and domestic and global poverty, among others. The SLS Pathway in Policy and Social Problem Solving prepares students to meet the challenges of our era by connecting classroom theory to professional practice, enabling graduates to become problem solvers who quickly assume positions of leadership.
Collective impact is at the heart of our Public Policy and Social Problem-Solving Pathway. During and after your time at SLS, you will be part of a dynamic community that emphasizes principles and practices needed to solve social conundrums and create sustainable solutions across all sectors.
The Public Policy and Social Problem-Solving Pathway introduces you to policy analysis methods, modes of learning from evidence, theories and social perspectives on inequalities, and how to think critically about political institutions. As you will see from the Guide to SLS Courses in Policy and Social Problem Solving, courses teach such topics as microeconomics, policy writing, analyzing and developing legislation, and how to communicate effectively with stakeholders, decision makers, and the public.
The Pathway emphasizes mastery over various modes of inquiry that allow you to advocate for a diverse range of stakeholders. It features training in cultural competencies to help you develop and evaluate interventions that counteract social inequalities. You will participate in interviewing, counseling, and negotiation simulations that prepare you guide business partners through responsible practices. You will have opportunities to learn how Congress legislates within institutional constraints; how businesses negotiate and draft contracts, agreements, and internal policies; and how to synthesize your research into comprehensive reports with an eye towards audience, purpose, and your own authority over research findings.
Guide to SLS Courses in Public Policy and Social Problem Solving
This guide will help you navigate the many public policy and social problem solving courses within and outside the law school.
Students receive hands-on experience doing the real work of lawyers, while providing critical legal services to underserved individuals and communities. Each of the clinics within the Mills Legal Clinic is directed by faculty members who are not only top lawyers in their fields, but also exceptional educators and mentors. Students work in the clinics full-time for a quarter or more, engaging in an immersive experience that reinforces what they have learned in the classroom.
Public Interest Opportunities
The John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law provides a rich resource for students who are interested in exploring or already committed to advancing the public good and achieving social justice through the law. The center supports students through their pro bono program, externships, mentorships, career services, speaker series, and opportunities for financial assistance.
Law and Policy Lab
The Law and Policy Lab is finding solutions to some of our most pressing issues. Under the guidance of seasoned faculty advisers, Law and Policy Lab students counsel real-world clients in such areas as education, copyright and patent reform, governance and transparency in emerging economies, policing technologies, and energy and the environment.
One of the many reasons to come to SLS is the ease with which you can engage in a joint degree master’s or Ph.D. program here. Your interest in policy and social problem solving may take you to fields that range from artificial intelligence to psychology, through a wide array of joint-degree options. You might hone your policy skills through a joint MA or MPP in Public Policy. The Graduate School of Business offers a wide variety of social problem solving opportunities that you can engage through a joint MBA. Many other Stanford joint degrees – from Computer Science to Education to Management Science & Engineering – include social problem solving aspects. Beyond Stanford, you might enroll in cooperative joint degrees at such institutions as the Harvard Kennedy School or UC-Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Such opportunities abundantly equip you to complement your legal training with skills in thinking like a policy analyst and working at the forefront of interventions in social problem solving.
Across SLS, you will find many opportunities to engage in public policy and social problem solving in a wide range of fields. Examples include human rights, corporate governance, emerging technologies, regulatory frameworks, and election governance.
Student involvement is a priority throughout the law school. At many levels of school governance, you are invited to engage with your peers and colleagues, faculty, and professional staff to shape the curriculum, special events, and new initiatives at SLS. It is this community ethos that ensures you build strong relationships that will carry you beyond the law school and throughout your professional life.