Immersion East Side Program Components

Immersion East Side Seminar 

This unique seminar is offered in two phases: a summer immersion experience followed by a semester-long project in the fall. In addition to fostering an awareness of the complex challenges facing East Side neighborhoods, the seminar is designed to expose students to the creativity and resilience of everyday life there. 

  • Over 12 days during the summer, students and faculty live together in a residence hall on campus
  • Site visits include government offices; political, educational and community organizations; Black and immigrant religious institutions; and cultural events 
  • Assigned readings focus on historical and contemporary events and encourage students to reflect on the underlying issues
  • Lectures are given by visiting scholars and community representatives
  • Throughout the following fall semester, students collaborate on a final project based on their summer immersion insights
  • Emphasis is placed on projects that go beyond first-line service or volunteering; the goal is to focus on systemic challenges and upstream solutions that can engage members and resources of the Canisius community 

High Road Fellowship Program

In partnership with the ILR School of Cornell University, the summer program brings together IES students and Cornell students. As High Road Fellows, they collaborate on research, participate in learning activities and perform community service related to economic development. Each Fellow spends two months working for a Buffalo-based nonprofit affiliated with the Partnership for the Public Good of Buffalo (PPG), a community-based think tank focused on research and advocacy support. 


“The city of Buffalo has made me who I am today—through this Fellowship I hope to grow with my city, and to do something more than just talk.”- Jean Rios ‘18, 2018 High Road Fellow

Read Jean's Complete Testimonial 

Community Outreach 

In partnership with other groups or as a solo initiative, IES hosts speeches, panel discussions, workshops and cultural events that illuminate life on the East Side of Buffalo.

Faculty & Staff Seminar

Launched in 2018, the IES Faculty & Staff Seminar helps participants engage with the East Side experientially, intellectually and emotionally. In addition to site visits, participants complete a set of readings, keep a journal of their experiences, and share their reflections. Insights from Catholic social teaching are combined with elements from the African diasporic tradition for a multidimensional perspective on faith, spirituality and justice. 

Through their participation, faculty and staff gain the knowledge and skills to lead future IES seminars for Canisius students. 

IES Co-Founders and Faculty Leaders   

Dr. Devonya Havis
Dr. Melissa Mosko