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. From there, activities and destinations vary from year-to-year, because the INVST staff create a timely and innovative learning journey for CU students who are destined to become change-makers. In 2015, students spent time in Paonia, Colorado with INVST grad Jeff Schwartz and his family at Delicious Orchards, and then they learned and served at Thistle Whistle Farm, an organic farm. They also heard the industry perspective on energy production, visiting the Oxbow Coal Mine, and they heard about the economic benefits of extraction for certain rural communities.

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 volunteered with the Black Mesa Water Coalitiion, a youth-led grassroots organization. They also visited a generating station in Page, Arizona where they had the opportunity to see how energy and power are produced from coal. In Northern New Mexico, students stayed at Casa Taos, a retreat center for activists, and then 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 ended in Colorado’s capitol city, where INVST students had the opportunity to engage Jessie Ulibarri, a political official, and speak with coal industry lobbysists. Throughout the month, the INVST students considered how energy and the US economy interact. Students looked 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 United States/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. Students serve 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 learn for one week about border dynamics and immigration issues, encountering individuals and families and hearing their stories, as well as meeting with legal clinics, women’s rights and worker rights centers, in addition to the Border Patrol. INVST students develop a nuanced understanding of the complex situation on our border with Mexico.

In 2016, after their week on the border, INVST students will travel to Managua, Nicaragua with the School for International Training (SIT). In Nicaragua, INVST students will learn about Fair Trade, Free Trade and economic relationships and models that connect the United States with this developing country. Students will meet with various individuals and organizations to discuss the maquiladoras (factories) in Free Trade Zones.  As well, they will become informed about alternative economic models, and meet community leaders in both urban and rural Nicaragua. INVST students will explore how women are affected by globalization, and they will examine projects in Nicaraguan communities that attempt to follow a different development path. Learn more here.

Learn about INVST's unique approach to Service-Learning.