Students at UWC-USA start working to become agents for change the minute they set foot on campus. Building bridges to understanding with students of radically diverse nationalities, races, beliefs and economic backgrounds. Partnering with a local homeless shelter, tutoring children, and renovating a community center. Learning to respect nature as they test their endurance in the wilderness. And completing a rigorous IB diploma program at the same time. Our students learn lessons in practical idealism that equip them to become changemakers for life.
- Students and faculty conduct over 17,000 hours of community service every year — putting into practice the values fundamental to the UWC mission.
- 85% of students attend UWC-USA on full or significant scholarships.
- We build a strong community on campus so our students learn how to build strong, just, and positive communities wherever they end up. We believe our diversity is our strength.
- Many UWC-USA alumni attend prestigious universities after graduation and go on to careers serving others.
UWC-USA faculty are driven, kind, and intelligent mentors and leaders who focus intensely on helping students succeed and grow. They come from many different countries but are united in their passion for teaching and their support of the UWC mission.
UWC-USA’s founders, in keeping with the values of the UWC movement, knew that engagement with the local community and developing an appreciation for the geography of the Southwest are central to the UWC-USA experience. Consequently, all first-year students participate in Southwest Studies trips in the fall. Led by UWC-USA faculty and staff a sampling of trips from the past few years include:
A border trip that features an exploration of the U.S. border with Mexico and the political, social, policy, and human impact of the controversy surrounding the border
A trip exploring sacred Native American sites and conducting community service at a “food oasis” on the Tewa Indian Reservation
An intensive exploration of the politics of the American Southwest with visits to elected officials and political organizations in New Mexico and Arizona
A week-long project with a food bank in Albuquerque, NM
Almost half of UWC-USA’s first-year students go on a trip to the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. After arriving at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the students break into smaller groups and, led by faculty and trained Wilderness Leaders, they hike and camp in one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
Southwest Studies trips vary somewhat each year, but they all seek to help UWC-USA students better understand the power of place, increase their appreciation for the people and cultures of the American Southwest, and provide them with opportunities to connect their academic learning with the communities we interact with.
Check out a slideshow from a recent Southwest Studies student photo contest.
In March of each year, the campus closes and students and faculty embark on Project Week programs across the Southwest. Supervised by faculty, students in groups of roughly 12 – 16 take on a challenging project that provides them with an opportunity to put into practice the skills they’ve been developing since they arrived on campus in Montezuma. Project Weeks provide students with an opportunity to extend their learning in a practical setting and, like Southwest Studies, give students a chance to get off campus to explore the Southwest. Our alumni routinely point to Project Week trips as among the most powerful learning experiences they recall as students. Many trips are fully funded by generous donations from our alumni who support the educational program of the school through our Annual Fund, while others are subsidized heavily by the school. Past Project Week trips include:
- Habitat for Humanity building project – Albuquerque, NM
- Studying border issues and community service – Bisbee, AZ
- Young entrepreneur pitch and funding – Denver, CO
- Working with incarcerated youth – Albuquerque, NM
- Art and culture as activism – Santa Fe, NM
UWC-USA alumni often lend their expertise to Project Week trips. In the past they have shared connections for our young entrepreneurs, housed students in their homes, and co-led trips with our faculty.
At UWC-USA we don’t just learn how to be change agents on campus; we know that the skills of courageous global citizens are only worth something if they are brought to bear on real challenges.
At many secondary schools, “co-curricular” refers to ancillary activities that complement a student’s experience. UWC-USA’s Experiential Education program, however, is more than simply a complement: it is an integral part of campus life as well as one of the International Baccalaureate requirements. To complete the IB diploma program, all students must participate in Creativity, Action, and Service, or CAS. Through CAS, they learn skills in reflection, goal-oriented strategizing, and stewardship. Students also develop local and global awareness, engage in meaningful service and sustainability practices, and navigate real-world situations.
At UWC-USA, CAS is divided into four signature program areas: Wilderness, The Bartos Institute for Constructive Engagement of Conflict, Arts and Culture, and Sustainability. All first-year students participate in each component during their first semester. In their second year, students choose one area to gain mastery in the component that best suits their individual learning goals.
In addition to academics, which is grounded in the International Baccalaureate program, UWC-USA has identified four signature program areas that all students explore during their two years on campus.
The Bartos Institute for the Constructive Engagement of Conflict provides students with the skills to mediate differences between people with different backgrounds — a fundamental skill for a UWC student.
The arts and culture program helps students learn about and explore the cultural differences between community members and challenges them to find new ways to express their values and experiences.
Sustainability is central to the UWC mission, and an important part of our work is to become good stewards of the world we inhabit.
Wilderness provides opportunities for students to challenge themselves, develop leadership skills, and cultivate a keener appreciation of the natural world.
Other UWCs focus on some of these areas or emphasize programming that is unique to their location. And while other programming at UWC-USA excels and serves our students very well, these four areas are central to how the UWC mission plays itself out at UWC-USA.
Greetings from UWC-USA!
I am truly fortunate to lead a school whose mission speaks boldly to the present while envisioning a brighter future. The UWC movement was founded in response to the dark days of the Cold War. It confronted isolationism and a brand of nationalism that threatened the planet and challenged our shared sense of responsibility for its future. Our mission remains as relevant today as it ever was.
A two-year experience at UWC-USA immerses students in an environment and community that tests their values and the power of their citizenship and leadership. We are a microcosm of the world, situated in an environment impacted by climate change, and part of a diverse, global population collaborating across national, cultural, religious, and socio-economic differences. At UWC-USA, we’re not only preparing our students for their future when we engage them in academics, experiential learning, and a residential community. We’re inviting them to fully contribute to the kind of classroom and community they can be proud of. We’re inviting them to begin their journey as global citizens.
Our students come to us with a sense of idealism and a desire to change the world. They leave with tools to do so. They come to us with a narrow view of the world and leave with friends from every populated continent. They come to us unsure how to build a great community. They leave us to become keystones of positive communities all over the world.
Life takes us in unexpected directions. We plan, we work hard, and yet we really never know where our planning and hard work will lead. We can, however, be intentional about the missions we serve. The values we uphold. Our contribution to the kind of community we wish to share with our family and friends. The kind of world we wish to be our legacy.
UWC-USA is a human community bound by a belief that education is a force for good. Won’t you engage our mission and join us in making education a force for peace and a sustainable future?
With hope and optimism,
Victoria J. Mora, Ph.D.
At their June 2019 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan that charts the course for UWC-USA for the coming years.