If you want to learn more about making a difference, enroll in the Denver Urban Semester (DUS) offered through Northwestern College of Iowa. DUS was developed in collaboration with Mile High Ministries and launched in the Spring of 2013. Your DUS classroom will be in downtown Denver, at the intersection of vulnerable populations and the nonprofit organizations that serve them. You'll live in community with other college students while you take classes and intern among marginalized people in urban America.
Nestled at the base of the Colorado Rockies, Denver is known as the Mile High City because of its elevation above sea level. More than 2.8 million people live in the Denver metro area, which is host to 7 professional sports teams, museums, concerts, amusement parks and a zoo.
Mile High Ministries
MHM is an organization that works with marginalized populations in Denver. It began in 1988 as a collaborative effort of 10 denominationally, culturally and economically diverse churches. It brought together urban churches who sought partners to assist in addressing the needs of the poor in their neighborhoods, with suburban churches who sought to share in the work of helping the urban poor. From this beginning a wide variety of outreach efforts emerged, many of them spinning off into independent operations in the inner city. These include such things as alternative education for high school drop-outs, outreach to homeless youth, a thrift store, and renovation of inner-city homes. MHM has also been active in training ventures, holding forums on neighborhood issues like housing, gentrification and youth violence. MHM has subsequently established relationships with over thirty ministry and non-profit organizations in Denver focused on meeting the needs of marginalized urban populations.
The DUS site director is Greg Fuchs of Mile High Ministries. Fuchs has a master's degree from Denver Seminary and has worked as a chaplain, youth pastor, Young Life director and vocational coach.
The DUS Curriculum
The Denver Urban Semester (DUS) is designed to provide a three-pronged experience of classroom instruction, living in community, and internships. Students spend 24 to 40 hours per week at an internship and take 1 to 3 classes for a total of 12-16 credits.
The DUS program consists of two tracks: the general track and the professional track. The DUS tracks are designed to provide two distinct options for NWC students and look as follows:
- Internship (6 -8 credits)
Choose two or three courses:
- Race and Ethnicity in American Society (3 credits)
- Intercultural Communication (3 credits)
- Global Urbanization (City of Joy) (3 credits)
- Incarnational Spirituality (3 credits)
- Street Psalms: Listening to the Poetry of the City (2 credits)
- Civic Engagement (1 credit)*
TOTAL: 12-16 credits
Social work majors:
- SWK 418, Social Work Professional Seminar (2 credits)
- SWK 419, Social Work Practicum (10 credits, pass/no pass)
- Street Psalms: Listening to the Poetry of the City (2 credits, pass/no pass)
TOTAL: 14 credits
*The 1 credit for Civic Engagement, which includes urban church visits, is optional for social work students.
DUS is offered every Spring term and four of the course credits can be used towards completing a minor in Christian Community Development.
All academic courses are accredited by Northwestern College of Iowa and taught from a Christian perspective by faculty in the Denver area who meet NWC's standards for academic rigor and spiritual integrity.
DUS internships offers social work, communication, cross-cultural, mission, Spanish, and pre-law experience at non-profits that serve Denver's vulnerable urban populations, including:
- Single mothers of pregnant teens
- Victims of domestic violence
- People who are unemployed
- At-risk teens and children
- Recovering adults
Education majors can also complete their student-teaching requirements in the DUS.
View List of Internship Sites
Living in community will be a key aspect of the semester experience. MHM will provide several types of housing in downtown Denver that will include interaction with others who are part of MHM’s various programs. One option will be Issachar House, a community apartment building that includes local college-age students preparing for community leadership. Another option is the Open Door Mansion, two privately-owned homes available to MHM. These facilities are readily accessible to mass transit for travel to internships and other destinations in the city. There will be a single adult or couple resident at each facility which is well equipped with kitchen facilities. Students will be given a stipend for food and will do their own cooking. The housing will provide excellent home bases for semester students, as well as places to meet together, hang out, and host speakers. Regular discussion and processing of their experience will be a critical part of the program.
The Denver Urban Semester costs the same as a semester at Northwestern College and includes:
- 12 – 16 credits (course work and internships)
- Housing and Meals
- Program Travel and Events
Check with your institution’s financial aid office to see if financial aid can apply toward your off-campus semester. For current Northwestern tuition rates, visit: www.nwciowa.edu/tuition
All applicable Northwestern College financial aid applies for Northwestern College Students. Contact the NWC Financial Aid Office for more information. Non-Northwestern College students should contact their own college’s financial aid offices.
Northwestern's Denver Urban Semester is available to students at any college or university who have completed two semesters of college work and achieved a minimum GPA of 2.5.