Program Overview

The DCI program is built around three interconnected pillars: Renewing Purpose, Building Community and Recalibrating Health and Wellness. These three pillars serve as the foundational elements around which DCI is constructed and implemented during the year of fellowship and those that follow.

Purpose Pathways memoir writing transformation series DCI Community Courses And Impact Community Engagement Physical Emotional Health

Learn about each area

Purpose Pathways

The purpose pathway is a broad, interdisciplinary theme to guide the DCI Fellow’s individualized academic experience at Stanford. The pathway will provide an academically rigorous framework within which the Fellow can gain new or deepen current knowledge, anchored in a Stanford program, center, or institute. The purpose pathways are:

  • Arts and the Humanities
  • Business, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship
  • Education, Teaching, and Learning 
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Engineering Sciences and Design
  • Health and Healthcare 
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • International Studies and Programs
  • Social Sciences, Policy, and Public Service

All DCI Fellows and Partners have a Faculty Mentor who helps them develop a “map” for their purpose pathway, and modify it as needed throughout the program.

Design Your Life Teams & Memoir Writing

DCI Fellows and Partners have the opportunity to participate in two renowned Stanford courses, personalized to the program and cherished components of the DCI experience. The first is the Designing Your Life course taught by Dave Evans, Co-Founder of the Stanford Life Design Lab. The second is a course on memoir writing taught by John Evans, Draper Lecturer of Creative Nonfiction.

Faculty Fellow Dialogues & Transformation Series

Weekly Faculty-Fellow Dialogues bring DCI Fellows and Partners together with leading Stanford faculty to facilitate discussion around a broad range of topics. The Transformation Series brings DCI Fellows and Partners in community to share lessons learned from their life journeys and from their participation in the Institute.

DCI Community Events & Colloquia

DCI Fellows and Partners participate in weekly and monthly community gatherings. Academic events include Faculty-Fellow Dialogues and evening dinner discussions with Stanford leaders, complemented by regular social events such as group hikes, Stanford arts and athletic programs, and domestic and international trips. Additionally, the DCI Community gathers for quarterly colloquia, virtual sessions convening interdisciplinary experts on a current topic. Past colloquia topics have included the 2020 Election, Systematic Racism and Health throughout the Lifespan.

University Courses & Impact Opportunities

DCI Fellows and Partners have the opportunity to participate in three academic quarters of Stanford University courses, and additional programs during the summer quarter. They are enrolled as non-matriculated graduate students and typically take several courses per quarter.

Community Enrichment & Engagement Initiatives

The DCI Program fosters numerous opportunities for Fellows and Partners to interact with undergraduate and graduate students in research, academics, and service projects of shared interest.  Intergenerational learning is a hallmark of the DCI Program, as both students and Fellows gain from each other as teachers and learners.  The dciX initiative has cultivated formal mentorship and coaching relationships between DCI Fellows and Stanford Student Organization.

Each year, new intergenerational engagement opportunities are formed based on the interests of the new cohort of DCI Fellows.

Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Health

DCI Fellows and Partners have access to Wellness Specialists who support Fellows in achieving their personal wellness goals. The DCI Program facilitates access to campus resources for physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Fellows and Partners can participate in group fitness, recreational classes, wellness courses, and regular programming on long-term outcomes for improved healthspan.

Reflections by DCI Alumni


By Michael R. Costa,
DCI Fellow, Class of 2017

I never imagined when I graduated from Colgate in 1980 that one day — more than 40 years after I first drove through the Chenango Valley — I would return to college. This time, the campus would be in Silicon Valley, and I would be nearly 60 years old. The climate was different, but so much of the yearlong experience I recently completed at Stanford University was as fulfilling intellectually and socially as that first year at Colgate. And, Colgate connections happened there on a regular basis.


Costa (left) studies with a classmate at Stanford University.


By Susan E. Nash,
DCI Fellow, Class of 2017

When I turned 60, I quit my job and went back to college. Like many college students, I went to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. But this time, I needed to get on with it. This time, I would Figure Things Out Once and For All.


Susan Nash, the author (far left) attending the Stanford vs. UCLA game with DCI colleagues.