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Research Clinics

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SPARQ hosts research clinics at Stanford that convene practitioners and researchers to workshop issues and brainstorm evidence-based strategies and solutions. Here are some highlights from past research clinics.


Nextdoor is a private social network whose mission is to provide a trusted platform where neighbors work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world. SPARQ Faculty Affiliates joined a team from Nextdoor for a Research Clinic to discuss strategies for keeping conversations on the platform neighborly.

Helping People With Criminal Convictions Get Jobs: Research Clinic With the Center for Employment Opportunities


In the past 10 years, the Center for Employment Opportunities has placed more than 25,000 formerly incarcerated people into full-time jobs around the country. The organization wanted to know: How can it do better?

At a meeting of Stanford social psychologists and advocates of universal basic income (UBI), conversations about the cultural challenges, presentation, and evaluation of this controversial policy yielded insights for people trying to make it a reality.

Echo Chambers? There's an App for That


To combat echo chambers and isolation, MIT graduate students Mohammad Ghassemi and Tuka Al Hanai founded Connect, a web app that brings students from different backgrounds together over lunch. The founders want to bring their platform to Stanford and partner with social scientists to evaluate its effectiveness.

Preventing Financial Fraud

Preventing Financial Fraud

100% of Americans are targets of scams. Yet most people think that financial fraud affects only the elderly and believe that they themselves would never fall for it. In fact, millions of Americans of all ages fall victim to scams, with costs of some $50 billion a year.

Bias in Impact Investing

SPARQ faculty co-directors Jennifer Eberhardt and Hazel Markus hosted a SPARQ Research Clinic with a diverse group of faculty, investors, and professionals focused on the role of bias in impact investing. Impact investing refers to investments that generate social and environmental impact, in addition to financial returns.

Fighting Ebola With Film

The latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed thousands of lives. In response, We Own TV, an NGO that trains people in Sierra Leone to create media, has launched a "Fighting Ebola with Film" series.

Building Diverse Learning Environments

What qualities should schools be cultivating in their students so that their graduates go on to lead meaningful and productive lives? And how can schools best teach and nurture an increasingly diverse student body? The University School, a private school for boys outside of Cleveland, OH, approached SPARQ with these intriguing questions. SPARQ Faculty Affiliates, including Carol Dweck, Geoff Cohen, Greg Walton, Hazel Markus, and Mark Lepper, drew on their extensive research in education to help the school hone its strategy.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Type II diabetes strikes some 26 million Americans and can result in blindness, amputation, and early death. Yet it is almost entirely preventable. Dr. Susan Brown of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research studies how to keep women of color from developing Type II diabetes. Our SPARQ Research Clinic with Dr. Brown explored how to tailor a diabetes-prevention program for women who are particularly vulnerable to Type II diabetes.

Inspiring Girl Scientists

She Heroes!

Children begin rejecting career options as early as age 8. To keep girls’ minds open to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), SheHeroes creates videos that profile women superstars of STEM. The nonprofit also develops curricula that parents and teachers can use to talk to girls and boys about STEM careers. SPARQ worked with SheHeroes to apply the social science of persuasion and identity formation to the organization’s videos and programming.

Listening to Underserved People

Great Nonprofits

SPARQ's third Research Clinic featured GreatNonprofits, a Redwood City-based organization that hosts a website where volunteers, donors, and clients can review charities. GreatNonprofits' CEO, Perla Ni, presented SPARQ with two intriguing questions: How can her website better amplify the voices of poor, mentally ill, or otherwise disenfranchised clients of nonprofits? and How can she measure the impact of her website on each of her stakeholder groups?

Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Too many schools put children of color in the "school-to-prison pipeline," funneling them out of the education system and into the criminal justice system. Children of color are three times more likely to get sent to the principal's office, suspended, or expelled than are their White schoolmates. Students of color who suffer from learning, behavioral, or physical disabilities are even more vulnerable to unfair discipline. Why do teachers more harshly discipline their students of color, and how can the legal system help end this injustice?

Measuring the Impact of Prison Education

Prison University Project

San Quentin’s Prison University Project (PUP) is the state of California’s only on-site, degree-granting college program for prison inmates. Like many nonprofits, PUP wants to evaluate its methods and results so that it can increase its impact, attract new funding, and scale to other prisons.