|Submission Date||Feb. 15, 2016|
University of Richmond
AC-5: Immersive Experience
Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that meets the criteria for this credit?:
A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:
In 2015 the University introduced a new three-semester living-learning experience—the Local to Global (L2G) program. The program will integrate students' academic, residential, civic, and global engagement centered around a thematic topic. During the first fall semester experience, students enroll in a one-unit course, live together in Lakeview Hall, travel regionally together, and have significant community-based learning. Then in the spring semester, students will participate individually in semester-long study abroad and investigate the topic globally. Upon returning from abroad, students will enroll in a .5-unit course that will connect the topic back locally through a capstone project. The first L2G topic is focused on water, social justice and energy development involving local and global civic engagement. Students learn to analyze the issues surrounding water from multiple worldviews/cultural contexts. Finally, the learning from the different local and global contexts will be synthesized during the capstone in the third semester. Any rising sophomore or junior can apply to participate in this program.
The Earth Lodge is a residential experience which aims to offer an immersive experience that provides students an opportunity to engage in communal dialogue about human connections with nature, environmental issues, and sustainability. The community of students is required to take a class, which varies from year to year, but with a common goal to facilitate the involvement of students with their local ecosystem. The final project of the class focuses natural resource stewardship within the local environment. For example, a project last year analyzed the potential impacts of a proposed natural gas pipeline in the state. Students live together for a year, taking the course in the fall and completing projects in the spring. As part of the requirements of living in the community, students must participate in a short service learning activity at a local park. They also participate in a five-day experiential learning trip in the fall and a two-day trip in the spring.
The SEEDS Project is a student-run organization that exists to work alongside marginalized communities and to examine the complexities of American society to develop a better understanding of service both locally and nationally. SEEDS (Students Engaging and Enacting a Dialogue on Service) embodies its long-term vision by creating sustainable relationships with the communities they visit, while also developing meaningful friendships among the participants. Although they aim to provide support to marginalized communities, the primary goal of the SEEDS Project is to engage students in discussion and reflection on social injustice.
In order to fulfill its mission, the SEEDS Project offers two alternative spring break trips for students at the University of Richmond, one in Louisiana and the other in West Virginia. The group has developed a disciplined service-learning experience that involves manual labor and most importantly, conversations in and around the communities in which participants engage. The SEEDS Project highlights the history of the region, connects to a variety of leaders and people in the community, and initiates educational exercises and reflections before, during, and after the trips.
Many opportunities for meaningful engagement in sustainability are available to students through the University of Richmond Study Abroad program. Programs at the International Education of Students (IES) Freiburg in southwest Germany, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark, offer a multitude of hands-on sustainability options. Additionallu, the School for International Training (SIT), the School for Field Studies, and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) provide field experiences in locations such as Australia, Madagascar, and the Caribbean.
The website URL where information about the immersive program(s) is available:
Local to Global, Water: http://livinglearning.richmond.edu/communities/l2g-water/index.html
Geography of the James River Watershed: http://livinglearning.richmond.edu/ssir/james-river/index.html
SEEDs Project: http://engage.richmond.edu/events/alternative-breaks/seeds-project.html
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