Frequently Asked Questions
What is the UU College of Social Justice?
UUCSJ was launched in June 2012 as a joint program of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Its mission is to help Unitarian Universalists work for justice in their communities.
UUCSJ offers service-learning journeys for all ages, social justice trainings for high school youth, and internships for college-age young adults. All of these opportunities are guided by a commitment to human rights and grounded in UU theology, history, and contemplative practices.
Does the UU College of Social Justice have a degree program?
No. UUCSJ is not designed to be an accredited college. The name College of Social Justice reflects the initiative’s focus on justice education. Its programs combine direct, hands-on experience with readings, reflection, and discussion.
How are your programs priced?
The prices listed for each of our programs represents only the direct costs of housing, food, translation, training, and internal transportation. None of our staff or overhead costs are included in these prices. Our institutional expenses are covered through the generosity of direct donations to UUSC or the UUA.
Is financial aid available for your programs?
Yes! We do our best to make programs affordable by charging only the direct costs for housing, food, in-country transportation, translation, and program leadership.
In addition, we offer financial assistance based on need, depending on the available funds and the number of requests received. You can apply for this assistance at the time you submit your program application. You can help us make decisions quickly by applying early and completing all of the application fields. In general, we will award financial aid as completed applications are received.
Are there age limits on your programs?
Yes. High school programs are open to those who have completed grade 9 through those who have just finished grade 12 (or equivalent). All UUCSJ overseas service-learning programs have a minimum age of 18 for people traveling on their own. Depending on the destination, teenagers who are 16 or 17 may participate if they are accompanied by a parent or parent-designated guardian, with permission from UUCSJ.
There is no maximum age for participants in UUCSJ service-learning programs, and many elders have joined us. Some trips are to places where travel conditions are rough, so please contact UUCSJ staff directly if you have questions.
UUCSJ’s Global Justice Summer Internships are designed for young adults of college age and older (ages 18–35).
Do I have to be a Unitarian Universalist to participate?
No! All UUCSJ programs are open to people of any religious affiliation or no affiliation. Unitarian Universalism is a very inclusive faith. UUCSJ programs are designed to reflect the values and commitments of the UU faith while welcoming those of other faiths or lack thereof.
Unitarian Universalism is evident in much of the content of UUCSJ’s study guide. The study guide includes readings and stories from the UU denomination’s history that bring to mind the ways others have struggled to put their faith to work for human rights. UUCSJ’s Unitarian Universalist grounding is also reflected in its programs through brief, simple worship services and group reflection that begin and end each day, as well as the encouragement to engage in a contemplative practice as part of preparation for a UUCSJ journey.
What do you mean by experiential learning?
There are many ways to learn: through books, lectures, and seminars; hands-on practice and apprenticeship; classes, movies, conversations — and, of course, by direct experience. UUCSJ believes all these methods are valuable — but when people learn something through direct experience, it tends to go right to their core. The results can be life changing.
UUCSJ programs create partnerships with people who are directly impacted by current justice struggles. When people hear their stories firsthand, share their labor and their food, worship with them, directly encounter their struggles and victories and share aspirations for justice, then they have not simply learned something — they have been changed. And this kind of change inspires new commitment to the work of justice.
What is your study guide and how can I take a look at it?
The study guide is a framework of study that helps participants better understand the dynamics of race, class, power, and privilege both in their own lives and in the lives of the partners they will visit.
Participants learn about how the UU faith has historically engaged with human rights struggles and explore the ways contemplative practices like meditation, prayer, and worship can sustain the work of social justice. Each program also uses materials particular to the history and current struggles of the people and area being visited.
The basic framework and content of the UUCSJ study guide is available on our website. Readings and other information specific to each destination are available on the web pages that describe each trip.
What do you mean by contemplative practices?
In addition to the worship and reflection offered during its programs, UUCSJ encourages participants to adopt an individual practice of prayer or meditation. Such practices help people quiet their minds and deepen their attention, opening participants to new learning and insight.
There are many forms of contemplative practice: prayer and meditation of various kinds, journaling, dance, music, and yoga. These practices slow a person down and focus one’s mind away from the normal distractions of every day. This helps prepare people for a period of intensive learning and makes it possible to better incorporate what is learned.
How do you decide where to travel?
UUCSJ programs are built around the justice commitments of its parent institutions, the UUA and UUSC. Check out current service-learning trips for more information on destinations and partnerships explored.
UUCSJ’s young adult interns are placed with UU organizations and with program partners of the UUA and UUSC. Find out more about current internship placements.