Meet St. Louis provides Washington University first-year students with substantive exposure to St. Louis social issues and neighborhoods through off-campus experiences and reflective dialogue in small groups. Volunteer excursion organizers – faculty, staff, and student group leaders – plan and lead experiences that focus on a specific community issue or geographic area, often in partnership with local non-profit organizations. Meet St. Louis excursions aim to meet St. Louis community needs, specifically focusing on social justice issues, through direct community service and by exciting participants to act on issues discovered during their experience.
Trip Organizers are faculty, staff, student group leaders and community partners who have a specific or deep connection with any of a variety of local issues and neighborhoods. Trip Organizers are the face of these excursions, and are essential players for connecting first-year students to St. Louis and igniting meaningful reflection and conversation for new students about what it means to be an engaged member of the St. Louis community.
Excursions are a partnership between the Washington University and St. Louis communities. Excursions should have at least one Washington University organizer, either faculty, staff or student leader, and ideally will have at least one St. Louis community leader organizer as well.
Absolutely. As a trip organizer you will work with your fellow organizers and partners for your excursion, as well as Gephardt Institute staff, to develop your excursion. This will include completion of an excursion Proposal in July and participation of two trainings, one in July and one in August. Each of these, including trainings, may be completed remotely through email, phone, and video chat communication.
Excursions are half day experiences that explore a geographic area and/or a social issue that impacts St. Louis. Visit our excursions webpage for examples. Each excursion concludes with one hour of facilitated reflection and discussion, helping to provide clear steps for continued engagement. Groups discussed what students saw and heard throughout their excursion experience, what they learned about St. Louis and civic engagement, and their roles and ways that they can positively impact their community.
Students self-select excursions from a list that are shared on our website and through tabling and other outreach. Successful excursions clearly articulate what students can expect to learn and experience during the excursion, they balance opportunities for new students to engage with St. Louis and connect with each other, and they provide safe, fun, and meaningful ways for students to explore their new home and a subject that they care about. Meet St. Louis is intended to be a first step toward four years of civic engagement while at Washington University. Excursions are most effective when they open doors for questions and ideas, and support students who are experiencing new challenges and discomforts as they transition into college.
Reach out to the Gephardt Institute and we will work with you to determine what excursion and/or partners could fit with your ideas. Often, a trip organizers ideas for an excursion evolve throughout the summer as organizers, community partners, and Gephardt staff work together to build an experience that will be meaningful to students and beneficial to the community.
Reach out to the Gephardt Institute! All excursions require a trip organizer, but if you have an idea or a community partner, we may be able to identify a strong campus partner to lead the excursion with the community partner.
What if I am a community partner not affiliated with Washington University, can I still lead an excursion?
Yes! In an effort to better place the voice, needs, and interests of the community at the forefront of this program, we are looking for community partners who would like to lead excursions. We will work with you to identify a campus partner who can co-lead an excursion.
Meet St. Louis is intended to be the beginning of a journey for first year students. We hope that they will increasing integrate civic and St. Louis engagement into their college experience. We hope that students will continue to engage through their coursework, research, jobs, volunteerism, student leadership, and through physical presence off campus and in the St. Louis community. Whether you are a faculty member, program coordinator, advisor, student group leader, or community member, you can play an integral role to inspire this continued engagement by sharing your own values, your work, and how you are civically engaged and connected to St. Louis.
Please join us for an information session in the spring or early summer. You can also reach out to Mindy Bernstein, the Meet St. Louis Coordinator, at email@example.com, to set up a meeting or ask any additional questions about the program.