Lehigh Launch: Experiential, Place-Based Learning

Start your college career with an immersive, inquiry-based semester in the American West or Santiago, Chile and learn from your location, your professors, your peers—and yourself.

Because life isn’t divided into majors. And not all classrooms have walls.

Lehigh Launch is an experiential, integrative learning experience for intellectually curious and independent students. This unique first-semester experience is led by Lehigh faculty and staff, is open to students in any major, and costs the same as an on-campus semester (financial aid applies the same as for an on-campus semester as well). Through hands-on learning and challenging coursework in a living-learning community, students will gain new perspectives, grow as individuals and return to Lehigh with the experience and knowledge to succeed.

Program Locations

People on a mountain summit

Semester in the American West: WY and NM

Spend your semester with Lehigh faculty learning about the literature, earth and environment, and peoples of Wyoming and New Mexico — while you also learn about yourself. A backpacking expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) elevates the program's classroom- and field-based learning.


Andes Mountains in Santiago, Chile

Semester in Santiago, Chile

Experience Chilean culture by studying in the beautiful colonial city of Santiago, nestled at the foot of the Andes Mountains.

What is learning like in Lehigh Launch?


place-based, situated in a living-learning environment


experiential, inquiry-based


concepts woven together through connective themes


cohort-based learning with collaborative projects and reports


Leadership Potential

Is this right for me?

Lehigh Launch is for the student with a curious mind, an independent spirit and outstanding leadership potential.


How will I grow?

Develop skills of leadership, teamwork and social responsibility

  • Create "collaborative connections" with other students; work productively in teams
  • Demonstrate skills of inclusive leadership
  • Strengthen empathy and sense of responsibility for others; community engagement
  • Learn to address disagreements productively, honoring multiple perspectives and competing points of view

Acquire productive habits of mind

  • Demonstrate "creative curiosity," taking the initiative to explore issues and ideas
  • Embrace contradictions and complex problems, recognizing one's own biases and assumptions
  • Engage in reflection and self-assessment
  • Develop capacity to observe closely, with sustained attention

Develop subject area skills through hands-on experience

  • Learn and apply key concepts within a discipline of study
  • Use investigative and analytical methods appropriate to a discipline
  • Collect and synthesize information or data

Strengthen communication skills

  • Understand contexts and purposes for writing, including the conventions of different academic disciplines
  • Produce texts that analyze issues and ideas in clear, well-organized, readable documents
  • Engage in effective oral and multimodal communication, using a variety of media to reach multiple audiences

Contact Us

Have a question? We have an answer. And if you can't find what you're looking for in our Frequently Asked Questions, reach out for a personal conversation.

General Questions: lehighlaunch@lehigh.edu
American West-specific Questions: launchwest@lehigh.edu
Chile-specific Questions: launchabroad@lehigh.edu