Each summer, we offer 2 or 3 internships, usually focusing on a specific issue or project with a team of students from different colleges. These are unpaid, but can be structured to require <15 hr/wk so students so students can still hold down a job if they want; others may work up to 25–30 hr/wk. Are you interested in and able to do an unpaid internship? (At some colleges, that makes students eligible for stipends and/or free summer housing.)
In addition, some students who are planning a fall internship for credit elect to get a head start by doing background research over the summer.
This year, the summer internship program focuses on and connects three areas of great importance for community sustainability. Interns will work on one or more of the projects:
- interdisciplinary teaching on the food system and its relationships to health, climate, and sustainability;
- identifying new venues in schools and in the community for the ‘Welcome, Neighbor’ exhibition and creating materials to help teachers integrate concerns about immigrants and refugees;
- examining concerns with—and alternatives to—the current law enforcement and criminal justice systems.
Levels of engagement can range from working on multiple projects for the full summer to intense engagement on a single project for a shorter period. (Some interns may focus primarily on a single project, while others may devote time to two or more areas.)
Team members will meet with selected community members to explore aspects of the projects and their research, and will meet as a group to review progress, plan next steps, work together on complex tasks, and coordinate independent work and team projects. In addition, each intern is expected to do reading and research independently, with the internship coordinator or other staff available to answer questions or provide assistance.
Project 1. Schools Initiative
We will complete a package for Interdisciplinary Teaching on Food, Climate, & Health — somewhat parallel to last year’s project on Teaching Climate & Sustainability. The goal is to produce a similar website and a package to help teachers raise awareness of food, health, & sustainability. We will also make some minor updates to the teach-climate project, including posting online some of the documents that are no longer available on government websites.
Raising awareness of climate, sustainable food production, and related health issues are all directly related to the Alliance’s mission and our goals of creating more equitable and livable communities (especially Alliance Goals 1, 5, & 6).
Activities & Deliverables
- Research what is known about organic growing and its impacts on health & climate relative to ‘conventional’ farming’s reliance on synthetic chemicals and large-scale operations
- Research ways teachers are incorporating food, health, & climate into their teaching
- Develop ideas for teachers to integrate food-health-climate connections into the various subject areas (use teach-climate.net as a rough model for format)
- Develop possible hands-on activities that can be used by students to explore, understand, and apply what they learn
- Deliverables will be defined as part of the project, but are expected to include teacher guides, a website, and tools to facilitate hands-on activities
Project 2. Welcome Neighbor
We will promote and coordinate displays of the ‘Welcome, Neighbor’ project to help dispel bias and prejudice about immigration and develop a teacher guide to go with the display. In connection with this, we will explore the social-justice implications of the current drive to stigmatize and persecute immigrants and refugees.
Raising awareness of issues related to immigration and equality relate directly to the Alliance’s mission and our goals of creating more equitable and livable communities (especially Alliance Goals #2, 3, & 6).
Activities & Deliverables
- Assist with outreach and scheduling new displays at area schools, libraries, colleges, and community centers
- Research historic and current information about immigration and immigrants, including numbers, legal requirements for immigration, actual crime rates, vetting of refugees, and other topics with emphasis on the countries of origin of the ‘Welcome, Neighbor’ participants at the time they or their ancestors came to the U.S.
- Develop ideas to encourage and assist teachers to integrate these topics in their teaching
- Prepare a brief guide to help teachers raise awareness of these topics, as well as ideas as to how we can best raise awareness of indigenous rights and
Project 3. Law Enforcement and the Justice System
Explore the current law enforcement & criminal-justice systems and possible alternatives, such as restorative justice practices, community-based systems (including community-based emergency-response teams), and what is now called ’trauma-informed’ care in schools & policing. As part of this, we will also look at the criminalization of dissent and legal and Constitutional ramifications of government treatment of immigrants and refugees.
Raising awareness of issues related to the justice system are directly related to the Alliance’s core mission and our goals of creating more equitable and livable communities (especially Alliance Goals 2 & 6).
Activities & Deliverables
- Research practices in law enforcement, the court system, and the penal system to get a better picture of what is happening
- Research alternative possibilities such as restorative justice, community incident-response teams and self-policing communities, and prioritizing re-integration into the community over incarceration and punishment
- Explore the denial of basic rights to minorities and people of color as well as to indigenous people (including rights granted by treaty)
- Explore & develop ideas for how what we learn could be used to improve (or replace) the current systems
- Develop ideas or plans on how to continue this work during the academic year
- Present preliminary findings to one or more community groups
- Prepare a report and/or poster to raise awareness on these areas
General Information for All Three Projects
Skills and Abilities Interns Are Expected to Have / Develop / Improve
- Understanding of project subject matter, including strengths & weaknesses of current systems, and how the subject relates to and contributes to sustainability
- Effective oral communication in professional & community settings
- Effective written communication (reports, website pages, and perhaps some blog posts)
- Identify key points and develop an informative poster that combines visual and text aspects
- Project planning & management
- Use of Excel (or a similar program) to develop spreadsheets designed to simplify and facilitate analytical & assessment projects by students & teachers
Qualifications: Strong desire to improve children’s education with regard to food, climate, social justice, and sustainability; strong written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; ability to work well independently & as part of a team.