Program Location and Academics

Students working at a picnic table

Lehigh Launch Learning Outcomes

Both Lehigh Launch locations have the same essential characteristics and program learning outcomes that were developed by the faculty committee that first developed the vision for Lehigh Launch. These learning outcomes anchor the Lehigh Launch experience, whether in the American West or in Santiago, Chile—both programs are an immersive, place-based experience where students learn from the local people, places and culture while:

  • Developing skills of leadership, teamwork and social responsibility
  • Acquiring productive habits of mind
  • Developing subject area skills through hands-on experience
  • Strengthening communication skills
Students standing on top of a mountain holding a Lehigh flag

Semester in the American West: Wyoming Rocky Mountains and Santa Fe, New Mexico

Pre-Departure: Program Virtual Orientation and First Week of Classes

The first week of the Semester of the American West takes place before students depart for Wyoming. The orientation will introduce students to their faculty and to the themes of the program. Following the orientation, students will have one or two class meetings for each of their four courses before heading west. Following this remote portion of the program, students will fly to Wyoming for the start of the semester.

Wyoming: Rocky Mountain Backpacking Expedition

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will lead students on a two- to three-week field program in the Rocky Mountains. NOLS is internationally known for its wilderness education programs. The NOLS expedition is physically rigorous, so students should prepare over the summer, but no camping or backpacking experience is required. While some Semester in the American West students have camping and backpacking experience, more have limited or no experience in these activities.

Wyoming: Classroom- and Field-based Learning

Following the NOLS expedition, students will pursue five weeks of coursework in the classroom, outdoors, and on short field trips in west-central Wyoming.

New Mexico: Classroom- and Field-based Learning

The final six weeks in the American West take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bishop's Ridge Retreat is the home base for Lehigh residential and classroom activities. Students complete their time in the west and return home before Thanksgiving, and complete a final week of remote learning as students complete final projects and prepare presentations for January.

Bethlehem: January 2024

In January, Lehigh Launch students will move into Lehigh residence halls several days before most of their peers. The Semester in the American West students and the Semester in Santiago, Chile students come together to share final projects, explore Bethlehem, and have an on-campus orientation. Lehigh Launch students begin on-campus coursework with the start of their spring semester courses.

Lead Faculty Members: Ray Pearson, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Jennifer Jensen, Professor of Political Science

Coursework Info

Lehigh Launch is led by Lehigh faculty and staff and is deeply connected to the Lehigh community. Students will earn 16 credit hours through classroom-based and experiential learning, while fulfilling distribution requirements in natural science, social science and the humanities, as well as the first-year seminar requirement for many programs. Specific course offerings change each year and may include Lehigh Launch Integrative Core, History of the American West, Conservation Biology of the American West, Water in the 21st Century West, Building a Sustainable West and a humanities seminar..

Partner Information: National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

NOLS is the world's leading wilderness school. A nonprofit based in Lander, WY, the school provides students the opportunity to step forward—whether on an expedition, wilderness medicine or custom course. Students of all ages graduate from their courses prepared to step forward and lead their communities in a changing world. Graduates have a lifelong desire for leadership, commitment to continued skills development, and ongoing education. Since 1965, NOLS has embraced and explored the unknown through outdoor and classroom-based experiences.

NOLS is a national leader in custom education, and Lehigh joins the University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina, Philips Exeter Academy, the C5 Foundation, and other leading educational institutions in partnering with NOLS. NOLS has also worked with businesses such as GE and Timbuk2 to help them improve their communication skills, practice decision-making techniques, and coalesce around community values. The same lessons NOLS uses to prep astronauts for the unpredictable rigors of space will help you learn to lead in today’s unpredictable world.

Learn more about the NOLS core curriculum and learning outcomes >

Skyline of Santiago, Chile

Semester in Santiago, Chile

Location Information and Schedule

Santiago, Chile

As the capital of Chile, a country with one of the strongest economies in Latin America, Santiago is the industrial and financial center. Home to more than 6.5 million people, Santiago provides an ideal backdrop for Lehigh Launch students to experience first-hand how historic and modern architecture, fine and folk arts, a dynamic business sector, and fascinating history come together in this thriving metropolis.

Students will explore the intricacies of the Chilean landscape through place-based learning and collaborative, integrated coursework.

Lead Faculty Member: Hugo Ceron-Anaya

Hugo Ceron-Anaya is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Lehigh University. He received his B.A. in History from the National University of Mexico and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. Ceron-Anaya’s research focuses on analyzing economic elites, primarily in Mexico and Brazil. He authored a book titled "Privilege at Play" (Oxford University Press, 2019), which examines social inequalities and privilege in contemporary Mexico. In 2020, his book won the "Outstanding Book Award" by the North American Society for the Study of Sports. In 2021, Ceron-Anaya became a Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Latin American Studies (CALAS) in Guadalajara, Mexico. During the fall semester, he conducted research on the role played by local elites in the transformation of urban life in Guadalajara. In 2023, he was granted a Fulbright Specialist award and became a visiting researcher at the Federal University of CearĂ¡ in Brazil, where he participated in a research project on elites and racial privilege in this nation. At Lehigh, he has taught courses on race and ethnicity in the Americas, sociology of sports, Latinx communities, social theory, and sociology of immigration.

View a Q&A with Professor Ceron-Anaya > 

Coursework Info

Lehigh Launch is led by Lehigh faculty and staff and is deeply connected to the Lehigh community. Students will earn 16 credit hours through classroom-based and experiential learning, while fulfilling distribution requirements in natural science, social science and the humanities, as well as the first-year seminar requirement.

Courses will include Race and Ethnicity in the Americas (AAS/LAS/SOC 106), an integrative seminar (First-year seminar), Spanish and a TBD science course. Spanish-speaking ability is not required and will be taught at at the appropriate language level (fulfills humanities requirement).

Partner Information: International Education of Students (IES)

Founded in 1950, IES Abroad is a not-for-profit provider with 140+ study abroad and internship programs around the world for college/university students. In their program centers based in cities across the globe, they educate students to become global leaders through premier study abroad and internship programs, which offer students worldwide experiential learning opportunities that meet the highest standards of academic quality.

IES Abroad has a center located in Santiago, with full-time staff who will work in partnership with Lehigh University to deliver a high-quality program for students. The centers will serve as the academic base for students throughout the program and will also be accessible to students as a central place to meet up, hang out and have lunch, ask a question of the staff, or relax and mingle with other students between classes.