What is Explore DC?

Volunteers for Explore DC

Explore DC (EDC) is a two-day program for incoming first-year and transfer students at American University.  It's part of AU's Welcome Week programming, co-sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement & Service and the Office of Orientation, Transition, and Retention. Explore DC gives new students a chance to acclimate to their new city through logistical issues like transportation and food, to learn a bit about the city works by exploring the burning issues faced by community members, and to be exposed to some of the cultural and historical resources that exist.

In an effort to ensure uniformity across all programs and make it easier for incoming students to participate, we have simplified the structure and limited the choices.This year students will have a common experience of one day of service and one day of active learning through visiting various sites in the city. Students can choose from five issue areas, depending on their interests, for the day of service.

2017 Socal Justice Issue Areas

Nearly 20% (110,000) of Washington DC residents struggle with finding affordable housing. Contributing factors include gentrification, inflated housing costs, poverty, and disparities in income. AU Students will explore the complex aspects of this issue and how communities are responding while engaging with multiple District neighborhoods. Food is a fundamental staple in life. However, In DC access to healthy food is beyond the reach of some residents as a result of food deserts, areas with little or no access to grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable foods. AU students will learn about food justice by working with nonprofits, urban farming, and understanding how to increase access to healthy food.

Public health aims to protect the health of the population, prevent disease, and promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Community health issues can range from disease and illness like HIV/AIDS and asthma, to non-traditional health concerns like domestic violence. AU students will learn about health disparities and work with organizations making preventative and routine healthcare more accessible, regardless of ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status.

DC has one of the highest achievement gaps regarding K-12 education, depending on where students reside in the city. Local organizations work to lessen inequalities and prepare students to have a successful future.AU students will learn about the city’s education system, work with local advocacy groups, and engage with programs working to close the gap.

Washington, DC has long been a destination for marginalized peoples looking to build a better life for their families. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, there are more people displaced by conflict and persecution now than at any other point in history. Students will learn why this region has been a destination for newcomers and meet with local organizations working on current resettlement initiatives. Additionally, students will explore local neighborhoods that have been transformed and enriched by contributions of immigrant communities in the DC.

Washington, DC has made strides to lessen human impact on the environment through policy and community organizations. However, DC lags in addressing poor air quality and water pollution disproportionately affecting lower-income communities in the District. AU Students will go into neighborhoods and support environmental justice programs seeking to empower residents and being to understand their own environmental footprint

All images courtesy of the incredible EDC Press Corps team!!

Posted by AU Explore DC on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This a two-day, two-evening program for incoming students is co-sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement &...

Posted by AU Explore DC on Tuesday, June 6, 2017




Find out more about Press Corp. In exploring all social justice issue areas from a unique perspective: behind the camera. This special Explore DC program uses your creativity and skills to capture and creatively present the EDC experience. Select students will engage in media learning by using photography, videography, and editing. In the course of two days the group will travel around the city to document other groups in their service and experiential learning, all centering on the discussion of the media in relation to social justice work. Experience with photography, videography, or editing is preferred and encouraged but not required. Please directly contact Explore DC Coordinators at exploredc@american.eduor at 202.885.1553 with any questions!