Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.21
Liaison Ann Drevno
Submission Date Feb. 26, 2020

STARS v2.2

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

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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:

1. The Human Cost of Food - Salinas Immersion Trip

On this immersion, we explore the topics of food safety, medical, and human rights issues from people who feed us every day. Salinas has some of the most fertile soil in the country and is home to much of our produce. Our hope is to provide a transformative, educational experience that instills a greater understanding of the complexity of food issues, immigration, and the efforts of those on the ground working to push forward social justice.

2. 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.

3. MICAH Summer Fellowship

12 qualified 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 homelessness, 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.


Website URL where information about the institution’s immersive education programs is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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