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Alternative Spring Break at Bowdoin College

Promising Approaches

(7)  Encourage and support interactions across cultural differences. 
(4) Encourage and support activities and student and community organizations that provide opportunities for students to be engaged in their campuses and communities.

(5)  Encourage student participation in leadership and campus and community governance.


The Alternative Spring Break program allows students to spend spring break addressing an important social issue through service in a specific community, both in the U.S. and abroad.  Student leaders participate in a Leaders’ Seminar throughout the fall semester during which time they learn to organize a service learning experience for their classmates and think critically and deeply about the social issues they will address in their service.  Spring semester, student leaders  then facilitate a seminar for their trip participants.  The seminar includes guest speakers, films, readings, and discussions about service in general, the geographic region in which they will work, and the issue area of focus. Through the actual ASB trips, students have the opportunity to learn first hand about social issues by living and serving in communities affected by intractable social problems.  Overall, the program aims to educate students about national and global issues while instilling a passion for civic engagement and public service.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic Knowledge: Identify, define, and describe local, national, and global issues and their relation to one another.
    Discuss and explore the variety of ways an individual can help solve societal problems.
  • Civic Skills: Work cooperatively with others and develop effective team building practices.
    • Competencies in achieving group goals
    • Forge coalitions among those with varied interests
    • Examine an array of cultural, social, political, and religious interests and beliefs
    • Organize people to address social issues
  • Civic Attitudes/Dispositions: Recognize and respect the different backgrounds of Americans and others
    Concern for the greater good and the rights and welfare of others

Contact Information

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy