Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 49.89
Liaison Ann Drevno
Submission Date Jan. 25, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Saint Mary's College of California
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Roy Wensley
Dean of Science
School of Science
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that meets the criteria for this credit?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:

1. DIRT Projects

Since January 2002, students have had the option, during Jan Term, to participate in trips loosely connected under the title "DIRT" - Dismantle, Immerse, Reflect, Transform. DIRT trips have sent students into situations of extreme poverty and challenged those students to collaborate with host communities to address quality-of-life issues of the community's choosing.

More than just service learning trips, the course requires the students to participate in daily reflections that look beyond treating the problem and to seek out the larger social, economic and environmental conditions that led to the current condition. These observations are then explored by the group to understand the systemic changes needed to foster more sustainable outcomes for the benefit of the host community, the surrounding region, and communities at large.

Recent trips (Dominica, Tanzania, Haiti and Brazil) have focused on issues of water security, sanitation and reforestation, with the recognition that these issues are deeply intertwined and directly related to the health and happiness of the host communities. With mentoring from veterans of prior trips, the students learn about the feasibility of addressing these major quality-of-life issues in ways that can be managed and maintained by locals in-country with the resources available to them. In addition, while on-site, the students learn how to manage their own use of water, power and other resources while reducing the waste stream that would be typical of their lives in the U.S.

Past programs have taken students to the Brazilian Amazon, post-earthquake Haiti, post-tornado Indiana, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Carib Territory of Dominica, and post-Katrina New Orleans. In many of these locations, students have returned across a number of years to maintain, sustain and build upon the projects on which prior groups collaborated.

2. MICAH Summer Fellowship

12 qualified (2nd, 3rd or 4th year student during 2015-2016 academic year, 2.5 GPA, previous community engagement and/or leadership experience) SMC & USD students will be selected to participate in the MICAH Summer Fellowship.

Each student will serve for 8 weeks (MAY 29th - July 26th) at a Bay Area community organization that promotes the common good. Students’ service will be varied based on the community partner that they serve. Some will work directly with low-income and marginally housed individuals to help provide access to basic needs such as food, shelter, jobs, and health care.

Others will work directly with staff and citizens to plan and implement campaigns to end houselessness, advocate for access to health care, neighborhood safety, employment, and education. The students service will directly or indirectly empower and benefit those who are economically disadvantaged and in need of the above items.

Fellows will live together in an Alameda apartment and engage in a community night twice a week. During this time, they will discuss readings, reflection papers, projects, and a final paper. A CILSA staff member coordinates and facilitates the Micah Summer Fellowship program, maintaining regular contact with the Fellows and community partners. Fellows are expected to devote 35-40 hours each week to their community partner organization and are not allowed to engage in any other employment during the fellowship period.

Because the fellowship may impinge upon students’ ability to earn money during the summer to pay for school expenses in the fall, each fellow will receive a $2,500 service award upon completion.

Link: http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/catholic-institute-for-lasallian-social-action/students/leadership-programs/summer-fellowships/micah


The website URL where information about the immersive program(s) is available:

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