Border Studies Program


  • We are still accepting applications for the Spring 2015 Border Studies Program! The deadline for applying is October 17, 2014. Apply now!
  • The BSP is excited to announce that we have new staff and family member, Alisha Vasquez! Read her bio and a brief Q&A here!
  • Maddie Taterka, Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and Fall 2012 BSP Alum, recently published a piece on the detention of child migrants in Arizona.
  • Spring 2014 Border Studies Program alum Alex Cook is working this summer with migrant advocacy group Migrant Justice. Read about his work with the Vermont based organization here.
  • Marcos Ramos, Earlham grad and Spring 2013 BSP alum is spending his summer in his native Brazil after having won a Davis Project for Peace Grant for his project “Navigating Discourses of Sexuality: Resistance to Homophobia in Brazil”. Read more here.
  • Read the participants' updates from the Borderlands and follow their experiences throughout the semester at our Border Studies blog.
  • Read BSP Instructor Katie Sharar's piece for NACLA's Border Wars blog on immigration enforcement in Texas' Big Bend region.
  • Click below to check out our Facebook & Twitter pages and follow what the BSP is currently up to!
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Supervised Field Study

Courses | Supervised Field Study | Language Learning | Living Arrangements | Cultural Excursions |
How To Apply

Participants in the Border Studies Program have the opportunity to work at a number of different organizations in Tucson, including but not limited to:

Sierra Club

The Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club spearheaded a campaign to fight border wall construction after the Department of Homeland Security began constructing hundreds of more miles over the past few years. These walls split ecosystems, disrupt natural wildlife migration, and alter natural water flows. The construction of border walls is in direct conflict with environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Clean Water Act, among others, due to Section 102 of the REAL ID Act.

Read more at:

Tucson Community Supported Agriculture

CSA's are programs in which individuals buy shares of a farmer's harvest and receive a weekly basket of locally (usually organically) produced food. Tucson's CSA was developed with the specific purpose of keeping local farms from going out of business and to in turn revitalize small, sustainable farming techniques. The CSA has two pick-up days per week and also sells produce at one of the local farmer's markets.

Community Food Bank Resource Center

The Resource Center of the Community Food Bank is the branch that focuses on long-term solutions to food security. Stemming from a critical analysis of the industrial food system, the Resource Center works in solidarity with low-income families, especially Latino and Native American, who live in urban "food deserts" and often suffer from health problems. Farming, urban gardening, community activism, youth apprenticeships, and awareness building are among their many approaches to achieving food justice.

Menlo Park Micro Neighborhood Farming Project

Menlo Park is one of a few historic farming areas in urban Tucson. Located along the Santa Cruz River, the neighborhood is in a historic floodplain and was used by Native Americans for hundreds years. Under Spain and later the United States, Mexican-Americans settled the "west-side" and farmed the land for many decades. The Micro-Farming Project cooperates with individuals to use unoccupied space for urban farming. Food is sold to neighbors and and the Santa Cruz River Farmer's Market.

Watershed Management Group

WMG is a non-profit NGO based in Tucson that seeks to make the southwest city more sustainable by promoting water harvesting by individuals, the local government, and commercial businesses. WMG emphasizes education and empowerment in their work, and through cooperative group work, people learn how to convert their yards into water harvesting and food producing oases. Last year WMG used grant money to assist low-income Latino families incorporate water harvesting techniques and start urban gardens.

Iskash*Taa Refugee Harvesting Network

Iskash*taa is a program that was started to help refugees get accustomed to living in the United States by drawing from their life experiences. Many refugees in Tucson are from rural areas in Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Colombia, and other countries. Tucson is a city that boasts a large number of fruit producing trees, much of which goes to waste. Iskash*taa is a cooperative arrangement where refugees work with neighborhood individuals to harvest and share the fruit, while at the same time learning about each other's languages and cultures.

La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos

Derechos Humanos is a grassroots organization which promotes respect for human/civil rights and fights the militarization of the Southern border region, discrimination, and human rights abuses by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials affecting U.S. and non-U.S. citizens alike. Derechos is one of the louder pro-immigrant rights organizations in southern Arizona, regularly organizing protests, press conferences, vigils and other events in order to expose rights abuses in the area and build support for more just immigration laws. Students placed at this site would assist in a variety of work including abuse documentation clinics and following up on cases, organizing events, and contributing to ongoing projects. Read more at:


Samaritans is a humanitarian aid organization that was started in July 2002 as a response to the increasing number of migrants who were dying while crossing through the desert. Samaritans is a volunteer organization that does day-long patrols in the desert throughout the year. Samaritans main focus is on medical care for migrants, and they actively seek out migrants who need medical attention. Recently, Samaritans have headed up a project in coordination with Federal Public Defenders in Tucson to attempt to return migrants’ belongings back to them after incarceration and deportation to Nogales, Sonora. Students placed at this site would accompany volunteers on patrol and be involved in the project to collect and return belongings to migrants. Read more at:

Southside Day Labor Center

Southside Church, under the leadership of Rev. John Fife, was one of the fundamental institutions in the Tucson area during the Sanctuary movement. The church is rooted in social activism, and continually opens its door to the greater community through a wide variety of programs. Southside Church offers a shower/food program and provides space for a Day Laborer Center to the local community. Workers run the day laborer pick up center out of the Southside parking lot. It is the only day-laborer center in Tucson that does not require that workers provide citizenship papers. Southside is currently developing an English Language Program for the workers, and students at this site will be encouraged to develop this component further. Students placed at Southside will also help manage the certain aspects of the day labor center that runs Monday through Friday 6am-10am. Students who are placed at this site should be prepared for early mornings. Read more at:

Social Justice Education Project (SJEP)

SJEP is a two-year student-led social research program. During the students’ junior year, the project exists in an American History through a Chicano/a Perspective class. During their senior year, SJEP exists in an American Government class. In both classes social research is connected with the curriculum. SJEP conducts social research through field notes, poems, interviews, photo and video documentaries. The project creates newsletters, video documentaries, and presentations based on local social inequalities that people of color and/or poor working class experience in Tucson. Students placed at this site will work with SJEP student coordinators to help plan and carry out events in the spring as well as assist when possible in mentoring high school students participating in the program. Read more at:

Manzo Elementary School

Manzo is a small public school located in Barrio Hollywood - a low-income, majority Latino neighborhood. One of many community schools in Tucson threatened with closing by the district, Manzo is moving towards a PACE through Grade 5 Reading and Math curriculum centered around reconciliation ecology, the science of inventing and establishing new habitats to conserve species diversity in places people occupy. Students will be learning with hand-on horticulture and reconciliation ecology. This is an excellent vehicle to promote student discussions connected to the restoring of relationships, understanding the consequences of actions, and context for therapy and character building. BSP student placed here assist in classrooms as well as directly support the development of the school’s ecology focus. Read more at:

Scholarships A-Z

ScholarshipsA-Z is a grassroots organization which started June 2009 in Tucson in order to provide access to resources and college scholarships for students regardless of immigration status. Through its website, in-person advising, and presentations with students, families and educators, ScholarshipsA-Z aims to make higher education accessible for all, a vision similar to that of the nationally proposed DREAM Act. Students placed at this site would assist with various projects including community outreach, event planning, high-school presentations, research, and website maintenance. Read more at:

Tierra y Libertad (TYLO)

TYLO is a grassroots organization that promotes the ideals of equality, justice, and self-determination. Members, supporters, and allies of the organization work to build power collectively within the community for the defense of land, people, and culture. TYLO focuses on building multiple examples of positive social change and resistance in the barrios where we live. Work of the organization is carried out through a multi-tier model of grassroots organizing and popular education that consists of four key programs: Barrio Sustainability Project, Freedom Summer, MAIZ, and the Migrant Rights Organizing Campaign. Read more at:!/TierraYLibertadOrganization

No More Deaths

No More Deaths is a humanitarian aid organization that provides support to migrants in need in three different ways. During the summer months they manage and run a camp in the Arrivaca desert, where volunteers patrol the desert on foot searching for migrants who may need assistance, water, food, clothing or medical attention (during the winter they do day trips to key areas and hike migrant trails. NMD’s also collaborates with an aid station and comedor in Nogales, Sonora (at the Mariposa port of entry) where volunteers aid migrants who have just been deported by providing food, water, clothing and basic medical attention. They also conduct an ongoing abuse documentation project in Nogales by interviewing migrants about their treatment while in custody. Finally, NMDs also work on coalition building and promoting policy change to federal border and immigration policies. Students placed with NMDs may have the opportunity to contribute to all three components depending on schedules, personal interest, and the needs of the organization. Students will be expected to spend some of their time volunteering at the Arrivaca Desert camp (this may include some weekends or overnights during the weekdays). Read more at:

Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

The Florence Project is a nonprofit legal service organization providing free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Arizona. Although the government assists indigent criminal defendants and civil litigants through public defenders and legal aid attorneys, it does not provide attorneys for people in immigration removal proceedings. As a result, an estimated 90 percent of the detained people go unrepresented due to poverty. The Florence Project strives to address this inequity both locally and nationally through direct service, partnerships with the community, and advocacy and outreach efforts. Students at this site would likely assist in preparing and delivering “know-your-rights” presentations at the Florence detention facility, consulting and preparing cases with individuals who are in detention, and conduct research in preparation for asylum and general court hearings. Read more at:


Wingspan is Southern Arizona’s largest LGBT support and community center whose overarching mission is to promote the freedom, equality, safety, and well-being of LGBT people. To that end, Wingspan hosts a number of programs for members of the broader community, including an anti-violence program and hotline; a youth program for LGBT and allied folks ages 13-23; information and referrals; a seniors program from LGBT elders; a transgender support and advocacy group; a health and wellness program; public policy; and “Puertas Abiertas,” the Latin@ support group. Read more:

Ochoa Elementary School

Ochoa Elementary is located in south Tucson in a predominantly working-class, Latin@ neighborhood that serves students in grades pre-K through five. The school implements a Regio-inspired model for their education that emphasizes art, parental involvement, and student driven objectives. Past students have worked in the “Hopes and Dreams” classroom which emphasizes migration related issues, helps organize families against anti-immigrant legislation, and also grows food in their community garden for student’s families. Read more at:

Pan Left Productions

For 16 years, Pan Left Productions has provided media resources that educate and agitate to bring about radical social change. We put the tools of media production into the hands of progressive activists and artists, provide education on those tools and help people get their messages out to community gatherings, theaters, televisions and the web. Pan Left manages to keep cutting edge equipment in the hands of those who need it most but have it least. We have produced over 60 works that have shown all over the world, including productions dealing with environmental degradation, water issues, workers rights, transgender identity, and immigration/border issues. For example, we just recently mentored immigrant women to tell their stories of survival of domestic abuse. But we are more than just equipment and finished videos. We are a vital part of Arizona’s activist and artistic communities—we are the only group providing media support and education to activists in Arizona and the only progressive media collective in the border region. Recently we have been increasingly called upon to support activist organizations and document events. Whether for newscasts or video activism, we provide free footage to show what is really happening in the streets. Last spring we were invited to be on a panel on immigration and the media at the U.S. Social Forum, where we shared the stage with Democracy Now! and Deep Dish T.V. Read more at:


Located in the heart of downtown Tucson, BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Action & Salvage) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit collectively-run community education and recycling center for bicycles that welcomes people of all ages and walks of life. Through advocacy and recycling of the bicycle, the BICAS mission is to promote education, art, and a healthy environment while providing service and opportunity for those in need. We're an education center, not a traditional bike shop. Read more at:

Alliance for Global Justice

It is the mission of the Alliance for Global Justice to achieve social change and economic justice by helping to build a stronger more unified grassroots movement. We recognize that the concentration of wealth and power is the root cause of oppression requiring us to work together across ideologies, issues and communities. The Alliance nurtures organizations seeking fundamental change in international and national conditions that disempower people, create disparities in access to wealth and power, poison the earth, and plunder its resources. We support locally-based grassroots organizing by sharing political analysis, mobilizing for direct action, monitoring the centers of corporate and government power, expanding channels of communication, and sharing skills and infrastructure. Our commitment to solidarity and to non-hierarchical democratic process enables us to respectfully listen and respond to each other within the movement. In Tucson the Alliance organizes around anti-militarization and the respecting democracy campaign. Read more at:

Congressman Raul Grijalva's Office

Located at the District Office in Tucson. Internships with Congressman Grijalva provide a tremendous opportunity to learn about the legislative process and to become more familiar with how our government operates. Interns in my office will work closely with our legislative and press staff on a variety of issues. In addition to their work with the staff, interns will be asked to perform various administrative tasks that generally include answering the office phones, opening and distributing mail, and responding to constituent correspondence. Every part of the internship is crucial to the day-to-day functioning of the office. Read more at:,24

Asylum Program of Arizona

The Asylum Program of Southern Arizona (APSA) is a nonprofit, legal aid organization founded in 1999 by former refugees, human rights advocates, attorneys and religious workers. Our primary purpose is to provide legal assistance for immigrants fleeing persecution who seek political asylum but are unable to hire attorneys to represent them before the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Immigration Court.

Fortin de las Flores

Fortin de las Flores is a grassroots membership based organization dedicated to promoting civil, economic and human rights of women throughout Southern Arizona. As an action center we work to create alternatives to confront the poverty and violence that plagues our families as well as maintaining a commitment to celebrating the positive and healthy accomplishments found within our community. Fortin de las Flores is built upon an understanding that through empowerment, education and organizing women are a powerful force for social justice change. Using a model based upon self-sufficiency and activism we change our lives and create strong and dynamic leaders. Community partners are a vital part of our collective success. Read more at:

Corazon de Tucson Childcare Collective

The Tucson Childcare Collective seeks to work with base communities to provide childcare to grassroots and migrant-rights movements in Tucson. Childcare is provided by movement allies while the children's parents attend organizing meetings with the Corazon de Tucson and Yo Soy Testigo throughout the week. Training and workshops on child development are provided on a regular basis. The Tucson Childcare Collective is organized non-hierarchically, with input from children's parents, educators, and local activists, and continually meet to educate themselves about working with, and learning from, the youth and their community. Finally, interns may assist in researching games and political education activities to incorporate into childcare sessions.

Southside Farm

Southside Urban Farm is a new project in South-Central Tucson that comprises 20 acres of land in which the local neighborhoods (predominantly immigrant and low-income communities of color) take ownership and responsibility over the land.It aims to create an inclusive and participatory community run farm where local residents can reclaim a farming heritage and promote food justice, nutrition, and self-sufficiency in their own communities. It is a project with a broad base of community support, primarily the Community Food Resource Center and City High School. Interns will be given the chance to learn and experience the unique systems of urban sustainable agriculture, work alongside farm staff, facilitate educational opportunities for the community, and become advocates for a local food system.

Owl and Panther Project

The Owl and Panther Project seeks to help youth affected by trauma, especially when associated with torture, dislocation, or refugee status, through creative writing and expression and counseling. In 1995, refugee parents asked the organization to provide special support for their children. At first, activities focused on tutoring and summer school. Participants also met to celebrate different cultures and to learn skills to ease their transition into life in the United States. In 1999, Owl and Panther became a creative writing group as well. Children, young adults and parents from Central America were those first served. Today, many of families involved come from Iraq, Nepal, Somalia and Chad, and they are encouraged to express their feelings through poetry, art, drama and music. The group also develops leadership skills as participants engage in service projects, such as creating art to soothe others and raising money for earthquake victims and other populations affected by war and trauma.


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