Summer Service-Learning Experiences


The INVST Community Leadership Program's Summer Experiences are life-changing.

The Domestic Summer Service-Learning Experience (DSSLE) for 1st-year students in the INVST Community Leadership Program focuses on climate change, environmental sustainability, energy & power ...

Our DSSLE offers students a unique opportunity to travel together for one uninterrupted month and learn first-hand about environmental justice.

The DSSLE always begins with a wilderness adventure in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, where students develop a connection with the natural world. This backpacking excursion is co-facilitated by staff from CU’s Outdoor Program. From there, activities and destinations vary from year-to-year, because the INVST staff create a timely and innovative learning journey for learners who are destined to become change-makers. In 2014, students spent time in Paonia, Colorado with INVST grad Jeff Schwartz and his family at Delicious Orchards and at Thistle Whistle Farm, learning and serving. They also heard the industry perspective on energy production, visiting the Oxbow Coal Mine, and heard about the economic benefits of extraction.

Exploring energy issues contextualized their visit to the Diné (or Navajo) Nation in Northeastern Arizona. On the reservation, INVST students learned about the social and environmental impacts of the coal mining industry on indigenous people and places. They also visited a generating station in Page, Arizona. In Northern New Mexico, students stayed at Casa Taos, a retreat for activists and met the co-founder of INVST, Gaia Mika, while experiencing first-hand some more sustainable ways of living and working the earth. They also learned about water issues and fracking.

Finally, the month ends in Colorado’s capitol city, where INVST students had the opportunity to engage a political official and speak with coal industry lobbysists. Throughout the month, the students consider how energy and the US economy interact, looking for innovative solutions to complex environmental problems.

The International Summer Service-Learning Experience (ISSLE) for 2nd-year students in the INVST Community Leadership Program gives students the opportunity to learn about immigration, globalization and economic justice ...

After training in intercultural communication, Orientation and extensive reading, students spend time at the U.S./Mexico border where they volunteer with Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas. Annunciation House, our partner since 1993, is a shelter for refugees seeking political asylum.  This past summer, while many thousands of migrants, including unaccompanied youth, came across the border, the INVST students learned first-hand about this humanitarian crisis. Students served with recent immigrants from Central America and political refugees from all over the world. A shelter for human beings in desperate need of basic care, Annunciation House approaches guests with compassion. INVST students learned for one week about border dynamics and immigration issues, encountering individuals and families and hearing their stories, as well as meeting with people in legal clinics, women’s rights and worker rights centers, as well as the Border Patrol.

Then students travel to Managua, Nicaragua with Witness for Peace. In the second-poorest country in our hemisphere, INVST students learn about Fair Trade, Free Trade and economic relationships and models that connect the United States with Nicaragua. Students meet with various individuals and organizations to discuss the maquiladoras (factories) in Free Trade Zones.  As well, they become informed about alternative economic models, and meet community leaders in both urban and rural Nicaragua. INVST students explore how women are affected by globalization, and they examine projects in Nicaraguan communities that attempt to follow a different development path.