Published: June 7, 2017

Students entering their second year in INVST are preparing to embark on our Economic Justice Summer

We have made a significant change to the INVST curriculum!

In the wake of recent political events and in line with our longstanding commitment to inclusion, we realized we would need to change our second summer curriculum in order to authentically include everyone. Specifically, we realized that international travel would exclude undocumented CU students from being able to participate in INVST. So, in Directors' Committee we decided to change our International Summer Service-Learning Experience to a new offering that would focus on some of the same topics, but would do so INSIDE the United States, so as to include all learners. Our Curriculum Committee then took up the task of re-designing the second summer curriculum. We will launch it this July.

We are thrilled to have two INVST alumni, Shannon Cleary and Somer Stapleton, who will accompany our second-year INVST students on our first-ever Economic Justice Summer.

Here is a summary of what it will entail: the Economic Justice Summer commences in Garden City, Kansas where immigrant workers contribute to the agricultural sector and the meatpacking industry. INVST students will learn first-hand about employment opportunities and the economy in a rural setting. Then INVST will travel to Chicago, Illinois to partner with the Mexico Solidarity Network. Students will stay with host families in the North Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park, which is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the entire country, with a high percentage of foreign-born residents. The Mexico Solidarity Network will expose students to grassroots organizing on issues related to fair wages, access to affordable housing, healthcare and immigration reform.

In Detroit, Michigan, we will learn from the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership about education alternatives in a post-industrial city. The Bogg's Center's aim is to "help develop visionary leaders and critical thinkers who can devise proactive strategies for re-building and re-spiriting our cities from the ground up." INVST students will examine economic alternatives in times of change. Then in Omaha, Nebraska, we will learn about Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

Finally, in Denver, Colorado, while learning about the sanctuary movement to protect undocumented families from deportation, INVST will work with American Friends Service Committee, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, DeLaney Farm and more. The learning experience concludes with students meeting elected officials at the Colorado State Capitol who will share their political approaches to leadership on these matters.

We are thrilled to partner with some of the most innovative community organizations in order to expose INVST students to these timely topics. In the process, INVST will prepare learners to be effective & responsible community leaders.

Also this summer, as always, our Climate Justice Summer will help students develop knowledge around justice, community, and leadership; and explore theories of power, privilege, oppression, democracy, and participatory engagement. They will also examine historical and cultural contexts of environmental problems. The Summer Program Facilitators will be Nathan Zick-Smith & Joy Hamilton.

We hope these first-hand learning opportunities that occur in community will help INVSTers develop democratic dispositions. INVST stresses  collaborative & cooperative, compassionate, reflective, critical & analytical ways of being and doing. We also examine the structural causes of social and environmental problems, strive to help students develop empathy with those who are oppressed (both human and non-human), and focus on working WITH people, not FOR people, in reciprocal relationships.

Highlights of our timely Climate Justice Summer will include learning about organic farming, permaculture, coal mining, rural economies, water scarcity & hydraulic fracturing (fracking). We will have the opportunity to camp at Delicious Orchards, with INVST graduate Jeff Schwartz, owner of Big B’s Organic Apple Cider.

In addition, we will study the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline and learn industry perspectives on energy independence.

INVST will also travel to Piñon, Arizona to visit the Navajo Reservation and learn about the legacy of coal mining’s impact on indigenous people. Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC) is dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples' cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities. By working alongside BMWC on permaculture projects, INVST students will be inspired by leaders who are building a green economy.

In Taos, New Mexico, our students will see INVST co-founder Gaia Mika and stay with Daniel Escalante, who has created Casa Taos, an activist retreat center, with his partner Betty Artes. INVSTers will study community and culture in Northern New Mexico, Native American sustainability, diversity of leadership approaches, water, and land stewardship.

Finally, INVST will end our Climate Justice Summer by meeting with lobbyists and Colorado lawmakers at the State Capitol.