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South Side Initiative

The South Side Initiative (SSI) brings together Lehigh University faculty, students, and staff with the people of Bethlehem in order to share knowledge, foster democracy, and improve the quality of life in our city.

SSI rests on the proposition that the teaching and research mission of the university – and the quality of life in Bethlehem – will be enhanced by this collaboration.  SSI has two principal goals: 

1) To foster the exchange of knowledge, enabling students and faculty to share specialized academic expertise with our neighbors to enable community members to share local forms of knowledge, historical memory, and cultural practice with those in the university

2) To address pressing challenges in the life of the city, by creating opportunities for informed democratic deliberation and action.

To achieve those goals, SSI develops courses focused on the past, present, and possible futures of the city; supports working groups to conduct ongoing research; and sponsor events including public forums, visiting lectures, film series, public art and public history projects. In addition, SSI aids to pressing problems facing our community – from air pollution and asthma to poverty, hunger and homelessness. Courses enable students to explore the rich histories of our city and the vibrant cultures of our neighborhoods.

For more information, please visit the SSI webpage here.