Rice University

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership

Urban Immersion

Civic Leadership Competencies: Values, Beliefs, and Assumptions, Reflection, Diversity of Cultures and Communities, Social and Political Processes


Are you an incoming Rice student (First Year or Transfer)? Do you enjoy volunteering with family and friends? Are you interested in learning more about Houston? Do you want to meet a group of new students who share your interest in civic engagement? Do you want to take the first step toward becoming a campus leader?       


Urban Immersion is an annual summer program sponsored by the CCL that introduces incoming students (both pre-freshmen and transfers) to the principles of critical service-learning and to the City of Houston.  

As an incoming Rice student, you're becoming part of an ever-changing world that needs strong-minded and compassionate people. Urban Immersion is a program that aims to increase campus-wide social awareness by introducing a select group of incoming students to community assets, common urban issues, and the myriad of perspectives that make up the City of Houston, while engaging in hands-on service with our fellow community members.   

Participants will be involved in both direct and indirect service projects at local agencies that are partnering with members of local communities to foster sustainable development projects that are in line with the community's needs and values. Service, however, is only one part of the Urban Immersion experience.   

The program is based in three core components: serviceeducation, and reflection. In addition to service, participants will also engage in educational sessions that aim to introduce them to the communities that make up the city and provide context for that day's service experience. Participants will meet with local leaders and community organizations to gain a better understanding of the "big picture" - from community assets and root social issues to the forces and individuals driving positive change. Finally, evenings will be concluded with group reflections during which participants are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings with the group as a way of processing each's days events and moving from observation to action.   

In keeping with the spirit of the program, participants and student coordinators will live together in the community they serve. This is an off-campus experience and participants will have safe and secure, but simple living conditions. All meals are prepared and enjoyed together as a group. In the same vein - the UI Cohort will remain together for the entirety of the program to ensure both safety and team building.

Dates Held: TWO sessions allow for flexibility in participants' busy summer schedules. Each session will be organized by a team of Student Coordinators working hand-in-hand with Center for Civic Leadership Staff and representatives from our partner organizations. Each session will have space to host 24 new students! All applicants will be notified of their status in the program by Monday, June 11th. Applicants should NOT make any travel arrangements until they receive confirmation and further instructions from the Center for Civic Leadership.   

  • 2018 Session One: Sunday, July 15 - Friday, July 20 
  • 2018 Session Two: Sunday, July 22 - Friday, July 27   
Funding: The CCL covers all costs except for transportation to and from Houston.
Financial aid is available for transportation and is NOT a factor considered in the application and selection process. The CCL follows a need-blind policy for all application processes. CCL staff determine awards in collaboration with the Financial Aid Office. In order to maintain confidentiality, site leaders will not have information about who applies for or is awarded financial aid.