|Submission Date||March 30, 2018|
AC-5: Immersive Experience
|2.00 / 2.00||
Assistant Director, Community Engagement
Elma Lewis Center
Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:
A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution, including how each program addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability:
Emerson College’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Program began as a student leadership initiative in 1998 when six students and two residence directors spent spring break working with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sowing wildflower seed beds, installing fencing and performing beach clean-up in Westmoreland State Park in Montross, Virginia. Over the years of ASB at Emerson, this leadership program has blossomed into a popular initiative and a hallmark program of the Office of Academic Engagement and Community Action (AECA).
Across the year, advisors guide student teams as they plan weeklong excursions and raise funds to help defray costs of the program. The program offers site-specific experiences focused on a particular impact issue, depending on a combination of current events and community needs. The AECA chooses at least one national location for service and also operates a Boston ASB through which a cohort of faculty, staff, students, and alumni serve local nonprofits during business hours over spring break. The Boston experience offers opportunities for service to those who may not be able to commit to a week away while emphasizing how easy it is to take ownership of and respond to nearby needs for as much time as they have during the week. All ASBers return to campus and produce a showcase through which they share compelling stories and new consciousness with the Emerson community.
ASB helps Emersonians learn about and from communities as they learn about their own potential to contribute skills, knowledge, and energy to community work. The program emphasizes the school’s core values of moral courage, celebration of diversity of thought and people, and commitment to ethical engagement, collaboration, and meaningful interaction with local and national communities. All of these opportunities let Emersonians practice flexibility while adapting to the unfamiliar—a skill necessary for work and life in the ever-changing 21st century.
Many participants name ASB as one of the most transformative experiences not only of their Emerson careers, but also of their lives.
Past ASB programs at Emerson include:
exploring coastal preservation in Westmoreland State Park in Montross, VA
tutoring children to prepare them for standardized testing with the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, AZ
mentoring youth in Washington, D.C.
performing Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Hurricane Ike relief, respectively, in Waveland, MS and Galveston, TX
contributing to the network of organizations empowering immigrant farming families in Immokalee, FL
rebuilding homes following flooding in Cedar Rapids, IA
aiding nonprofits that support children experiencing homelessness in Boston
restoring oceanic habitats following the BP oil spill in Niceville, FL
engaging in poverty relief in Biloxi, MS and New York City, NY
preparing gardens and learning about food sovereignty in Taos, NM
maintaining grounds of the Appalachian Trail in Nantahala, NC, and Joshua Tree National Park in Joshua Tree, CA
participating in a female youth empowerment project with the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation in Eagle Butte, SD
delivering services and goods to people experiencing urban blight in Detroit, MI
serving in immigrant communities in Boston and at the El Paso, TX/Juárez, Mexico border
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.