A year before its 40th anniversary, the San Francisco Urban program has adopted a new name: Westmont in San Francisco. “The change reflects a new era, new commitments and a new vision,” says Director Brad Berky.“We wanted to acknowledge our liberal arts focus and institutional relationship.”
Westmont in San Francisco will continue to enroll 24 students each semester who study urban issues, participate in a range of internships in the city and live together in the historic Clunie House near Golden Gate Park. New initiatives will include greater emphasis on sustainability, a good fit for the Bay Area, an epicenter for environmental care. Berky says donors will fund a rooftop garden for the building similar to those on Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics.
Berky is seeking approval for a pilot program set for the summer of 2012 or 2013 where students learn from emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for eight to 10 weeks.“The idea is to ask academic departments to nominate their best and brightest undergraduates and set them up in internships with businesses and innovative organizations in San Francisco,” Berky says. “Participants will also take a seminar class featuring guest speakers who are leaders in their fields.”
Berky expects to expand the program’s curriculum next year and will invite Westmont and Christian College Consortium faculty to teach intensive courses over several weekends. “It’s been a challenge for us to revamp the program, develop a new mission statement and learning outcomes, and hone our message,” he says. “We find students increasingly interested in getting academic credit for substantial internships, which is what we offer. Alumni often tell us how much these experiences benefit them, giving them problem-solving skills and confidence.”