Alternative Breaks @ Stanford

Spring 2017 ASB students along the Carmel River

The Alternative Breaks @ Stanford Program exposes students to complex social and cultural issues through community visits, experiential learning, direct service, group discussion, readings, and reflection activities during Spring and Thanksgiving breaks. The vision of Alternative Breaks is to transform students into advocates of social change on issues affecting our communities.

The Bill Lane Center is pleased to help support student organizers of Alternative Breaks focused on the American West. In 2017, the Center helped sponsor its first Alternative Spring Break, Environmental Policy in California. The course was co-led by Elizabeth Trinh and Matthew Cohen, a participant in the Center's 2015 Energy in the Southwest Sophomore College. 

During Winter Quarter 2017, 12 students spent their spring break exploring environmental challenges and policy solutions in California. With an emphasis on climate change adaptation and mitigation, student participants examined local, state and federal environmental policies. 

In preparation for the trip, participants took a specialized winter 1-unit course facilitated by trip leaders Elizabeth Trinh and Matthew Cohen and faculty advisor Bruce Cain. Students were introduced to what water and energy policy looks like at the state level in California. During the course, students studied environmental justice, and specifically, how climate change impacts Indigenous communities in California and how the state is mitigating the impact.

In March, students took a road trip across Northern California. Starting at Stanford, students headed down the coast to the Monterey Peninsula, cut over through Bakersfield to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and even spent a night in Yosemite. Along the way, students visited various power plants, participated in a beach clean-up, and learned about conservation in a national park. The trip concluded with a day of meeting with policymakers in Sacramento.

Check out trip participants’ experiences on the Out West blog and find out more about the ASB program here. If you're interested in partnering with us on a potential alternative break, contact Stephanie Burbank