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Service Learning

Service Learning &

Alternative Breaks



Western Oregon University’s student-led and student-driven Service Learning and Alternative break program provides students and faculty/staff advisors with the opportunity to immerse in hands-on community service in local and global communities. Through service, participants develop cultural awareness, build leadership skills, and engage in the advancement of social justice.

Opportunities are offered during Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks.




Eli Cox, WOU ’14

Looking back at his time at WOU, [Eli] Cox credits two factors for his success in his field and in life. The first is the faculty in the health department….The second key ingredient in Cox’s recipe for success was service learning. In his time at WOU, he took several trips abroad to help indigenous people with basic services. “The people on those trips became my community, which was what I needed,” he said. “I loved being actively engaged, getting to see the direct impact of our work. It really helped me get a better understanding of myself and of life.” Read more of Eli’s experiences and impact in WOU Stories
(Cox (center) poses in 2013 with team members during a service learning trip to India.)






Service Learning Experiences

The Service Learning program is designed to offer hands-on, in-depth volunteer work with non-profit agencies around the world. Participants will have the opportunity to be exposed to different experiences, be able to discuss and understand societal issues in a significant way. These trips are generally longer in nature and occur during Winter Break or Summer Break (10 to 14 days). Most Service Learning trips are international and have a higher cost associated with them (students have to pay their way.)

How to Apply for Service Learning Trips: Applications are available at various times during the year. When applications are available, emails will be sent out along with posters put up.


Alternative Break

The Alternative Break program is meant to expose WOU students to hands-on community based learning during a 7 day period occurring during the first week of Winter Break or Spring Break. Participants have the opportunity to work with other WOU students, faculty and staff to increase self-knowledge and to broaden their perspective of the world around them. The emphasis of trips is working in conjunction with non-profit agencies to focus on a wide variety of social issues; these issues have included literacy, poverty, racism, hunger, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and sustainability. Being completely immersed in diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss, and understand social issues in a significant way.

If selected, $150 is due to confirm your participation.  All teams must raise and collect the full amount of money required for the trip. If all funds are not raised, an additional $150 will be due by each participant. All funds must be raised by the budget deadline or the trip will not happen.

Faculty, staff, and alumni consider 


Learn more at: wou.edu/slcd/faculty-staff/service-learning/