Starting in 2023, the Eco-Immersion Initiative was formed to incorporate stand-alone sustainable and outdoor education initiatives in and around the city of Newark in response to the to the lack of diversity in green spaces. According to recent data, only 28% of outdoor participants in the U.S. are individuals from ethnic or racial minority groups. Another study shows that 74% of people of color live in areas with limited green spaces. This reality is reflected among the Newark student population with limited access to outdoor spaces. Through the Eco-Immersion Initiative, we seek to promote diversity in the great outdoors, increase short-term high impact service learning and community leadership programs in collaboration with scientific learning, develop a focus on urban health and wellness, as well as initiate pedagogic practices rooted in harmony with our ecosystems.
Our offerings include:
- Local to global travel programs aimed at developing a connection to nature and the skills necessary to thrive in it. We do this through adventure sports, eco-immersion, and expeditionary education.
- Volunteer and hybrid internship programs with urban partners promoting environmental justice, sustainability, and urban health.
- Outdoor education campaigns providing students the opportunity to explore local green areas, and
- In-depth lectures on urban health, social justice, urban design, and access within the outdoor education industry.
The programs are designed with the following objectives in mind:
- Gain a greater sense of self-identity and personal values through in-class exercises, community engaged learning projects, and reflection writing assignments
- Engage the global/local community landscape as a living laboratory through lectures, experiential learning projects and small group classroom activities
- Develop a deeper, more mindful, and globally focused understanding of social change theory and practice
Through our programs, the experience will allow students to foster personal growth, character development, and deep appreciation for the natural environment; develop environmental awareness and encourage sustainable living practices among students and cultivate lifelong love and appreciation for the outdoors. Ultimately, we hope to be able to break down the barriers affecting or preventing people of color from participating in outdoor activities.