What is the program’s process?

You officially join SOL after you apply for and accept a SOL summer grant. Students apply for the SOL summer grant while they are enrolled in the gateway course, PPS 263: Border Crossing. Entry to the spring course in turn is dependent upon a course application, which we announce before registration in October. During the spring semester students learn relevant histories of political change and create a research proposal for an eight-week (minimum) summer project, secure commitments from a community partner, and, if necessary and appropriate, find a faculty advisor. If you join the SOL program you are required to complete all portions of the three-part sequence within the same calendar year

SOL Timeline


Gateway course: Border Crossing

Creating change is hard. Border Crossing serves as an introduction to a leadership framework for crafting social change. The course focuses on historic and contemporary examples of civic engagement and social change. The final section of the course is dedicated to training in basic research methods: learning about community based and ethical conduct of research, the process of applying for and obtaining IRB approval etc. Projects are guided by the students’ creativity and curiosity and formed in partnership with community partners.


cbr project

Participants conduct collaborative research in partnership with their community partners and the communities that they are a part of. If necessary, students choose a faculty mentor for their research, creating a final research product that is of immediate relevance for the partner and of interest to the student. Programmatic support is provided by HLP. The success of a project is dependent upon the relationships the student maintains with their community partners, their faculty mentor, and the HLP.


capstone course

At the completion of their summer projects, students must take the capstone course PPS490S. This course allows students to reassess their summer experiences with special attention to challenges and opportunities for creating change. Working in groups, students discuss strategies for creating broader change and ways of mobilizing institutions and implementing collective solutions to pressing contemporary problems. Students will also learn how to organize campaigns for political change, including learning the skills needed to run for elected office.