The University’s strategic plan envisions bundled programs that bring together curricular and co-curricular activities in order to develop the qualities of leadership and service that form the distinctive Valpo experience. It also calls for community dialogue that helps Valparaiso University successfully and respectfully navigate difference and build community. The Immersion Trip is a step towards bringing these critical priorities together, creating an experience that is rooted in the classroom, promoted and funded in a way that truly welcomes vulnerable students to participate, meaningfully connects students to faculty, staff and wider Valpo networks, and creates space to reflect on their own history and identity as they enter into discernment about what their vocation is while at the University and after.

The itinerary for Immersion Trip will be built around three C’s:

  • Context – The pilot version of this trip will be limited to no more than 25 students. At least 20 of these will come from the American Reform: NYC class being taught in the spring; participation in the trip is a requirement of the course. We will make a handful of slots available for students who cannot enroll in the class. On the trip itself, we will be engaging with scholars and citizens to provide and contrast the historical and contemporary context. Specific areas of focus include Harlem, Spanish Harlem, the immigrant experience (from Ellis Island to today) and the LGBTQ fight for Civil Rights. The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is in 2019, so visiting the historic landmark will be part of the trip.
  • Culture – Experiencing faith, food, art and music in the neighborhoods we first encounter through a historical lens is essential. This allows students to bring in their own stories and experiences as text and help spark deeper understanding and appreciation for culturally divergent backgrounds.
  • Conversation – The itinerary will include a wide array of conversation partners, including content experts in timely issues such as housing, criminal justice reform and immigration. We also plan to have a day dedicated to current students being in conversation with Valparaiso alumni engaged in meaningful work in the city. Of course, some of the most important conversations will be with one another.


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