What is AWOL?
USD Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning is a student-led organization on the campus of the University of South Dakota that sends groups of students on trips around the country and internationally to serve communities and learn about the issues they face. The organization is completely student-led from an Executive Board who make decisions to the site leaders who actually lead the students to their sites.
How is it funded?
AWOL is funded in part by General Activity Fees collected by the university, departmental funds contributed by the Center for Academic & Global Engagement, and the trip fees billed to participants to cover a portion of the total trip cost.
When are the trips?
Trips are scheduled during winter, spring, and summer breaks as well as approximately one weekend trip a month during the academic year.
In order to encourage active citizenship, the AWOL program immerses students in educational service-learning experiences through exposure to diverse social issues and encourages post-trip application of those experiences.
Diversity: We recognize diversity as an important factor in understanding social issues. Diverse situations encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone and therefore recognize different solutions to problems. By exposing students to diverse people, perspectives, and social issues, we hope to aid them in moving towards active citizenship.
Education: We provide participants the opportunity to look critically at root causes of social issues and evaluate their role in society. Participants are provided with basic education about site-specific issues prior to the trip, learn about those issues through first-hand experiences on the trip, and are challenged to synthesize their experiences after the trip.
Application: By utilizing experiences and education, we enable participants to become active citizens, whose community becomes a priority in values and life choices. We provide participants with avenues for continued community involvement and support their efforts to continue learning about social issues.