Immersion East Side

Our Mission

The Immersion East Side program is designed to engage Canisius students with the surrounding Buffalo neighborhoods and to fulfill the Jesuit mandate for promoting justice. Through IES, students become more attuned to the many cultural, political, economic and religious influences that characterize the East Side of Buffalo.

“The East Side is a lot more than what you see in the news… It’s full of people who have a shared humanity that we can embrace.”
-Alexander Vandenbergh BA ’14, MBA ‘18

A Neighborhood Partnership 

Although Canisius was founded in 1870, it wasn’t until 1912 that the college moved from its downtown location to a permanent home on Main Street. A thoroughfare in the City of Buffalo, Main Street is also a major border for the East Side of Buffalo. 

Buffalo's East Side is comprised of predominantly Black and immigrant communities that have been systematically excluded from the social, political, and economic opportunities made available to many other city neighborhoods. Nonetheless, East Side residents exhibit ongoing creativity and ingenuity that contests marginalization in their persistent efforts to attain social justice. The Immersion East Side program seeks to be a collaborator in achieving this goal and is motivated by extensive civic engagement that is a central feature of East Side traditions.

Canisius’ location in Hamlin Park, one of the East Side’s historic neighborhoods, poses some obvious questions. How can the college community be a good neighbor for East Side partners? How can students learn to be for and with others in the pursuit of equity and justice for all of Buffalo?

Through immersive learning and creative collaborations, the Immersion East Side program presents unique opportunities for students to explore these questions—and to live out the college’s Catholic, Jesuit mission.

Jesuit Inspiration 

IES was conceived, in part, as a response to a challenge posed by the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus:

Our Jesuit communities have to help each of us overcome the reluctance, fear and apathy which block us from truly comprehending the social, economic and political problems which exist in our city or region.
(General Congregation 32, No. 43)

Also, the idea of a “well-educated solidarity” was first introduced by Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., during his public lecture at Santa Clara University in October 2000.

Program Components
Learn more about the Immersion East Side course components and community outreach initiatives.