• United States of America
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Post-High School Social Justice Wilderness

Program Details

Backpacking Camping City Exploring
Fall Spring
Cabin Guesthouse Hostel Tent
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations and scheduled program activities for the duration of the program. Domestic airfare and spending money are extra.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Some Equipment Meals Park Fees Tour Guide Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare
Sep 16, 2021
Dec 18, 2020
3 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The theme of the Semester in the Borderlands is "borderlands studies & climate resilience in desert communities." We have developed this program specifically for students who are eager to learn about and explore the complexities of social and environmental justice in the borderlands of Arizona. Through engaging with communities that are experiencing firsthand the effects of immigration policy and climate change, we hope that students will develop a more informed perspective on issues that are of paramount importance throughout the world.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Discover the intricacies of climate resilience by engaging with a non-profit organization committed to protecting and restoring watersheds, propagating endemic plant species, and reconnecting people with their environment.
  • Hike through the beautiful desert and mountains of southern Arizona. Fall is an amazing time to visit these wilderness areas, as days are warm (not typically hot) and nights are cool. We’ll spend days hiking on the trails, and take our rest in the evening
  • Partner with an organic farm and permaculture site that has been an inspiration to the local community. Work on adobe structures, under the guidance of a masterful builder of earthen structures.
  • Discuss immigration-related topics such as the border wall, policy enforcement, human trafficking, and more. We’ll have conversations with local community members with diverse perspectives.
  • We'll spend time with a local non-profit based in Tucson where we will learn how to be advocates for social justice and change.


Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 1 review
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  • Housing 3
  • Support 3
  • Fun 4
  • Value 4
  • Safety 4
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Yes, I recommend this program

New perspectives, meaningful work and powerful connections in the Borderlands

I loved Carpe's Borderlands trip! I was with an amazing group of students who truly cared for on another and were passionate about learning from the place and people we were with.

The program components were spectacular and we had the opportunity to work with contacts that are such incredibly hardworking, knowledgeable, living-out-their-passions type of people who truly brought the topics we were learning about to life. Whether it was Francesca and her vast knowledge of native plant species and the pollinators they attract or Jonathan and Shelly with their visible excitement and dedication to all things social justice, I was so, so inspired by everyone that we worked with and learned from. It was so apparent that Carpe Diem has worked hard to establish a deservedly top-notch reputation and foster deep, valued connections with local scholars/activists/educators/change-makers in the communities where they are sending groups. Carpe's genuine focus on making the most ethical decision at all times is truly remarkable and honorable.

As for the actual itinerary of the trip, it was awesome. Having never been on a backpacking expedition, I was appropriately apprehensive but it turned out to be hands down one of my favorite parts of the trip. We were supported, engaged, and inspired by our amazing guide Treven and although there were certainly challenging parts (who knew how cold it could be in the desert!) we were given all the tools we needed to survive and thrive and I couldn't be happier with the sheer beauty of the Rincón Mountains and the sense of accomplishment I felt at the end. Another part of the trip that I loved was the social justice segment. We learned from authors, residents, and scholars about the border wall and immigration injustice - things I had very little knowledge of beforehand - and then had the incredible opportunity to speak with asylum seekers and newly transitioning migrants firsthand about their experiences. It was riveting, heart-breaking, and truly moving and I think extremely necessary in understanding the full story.

I couldn't recommend this trip more! I was so grateful for the opportunity COVID-19 presented in allowing me to travel within my own country and learn more about problems and solutions right here within our borders.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1) Bring a journal (or two!) and document experiences, feelings, emotions, interactions
2) Follow the packing list
3) Enter with flexibility, an open mind, and a willingness to put the work in and get your hands dirty
4) Appreciate the moment and work on being fully present for activities and conversations with contacts
5) Contribute to a positive, supportive, thoughtful group dynamic
6) Be confident in yourself and your abilities! Take initiative! Open up!
7) Take risks and step outside of your comfort zone
21 people found this review helpful.

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