Made possible through the Barry “Mike” Casper and Paul and Sheila Wellstone Fund for Community Engagement, the Clement F. Shearer Fund for Achieving Common Ground, the Interfaith Social Action Fund, and the Broom Fund for Social Justice.  

About the Program

Carleton’s Social Justice Internships were established in 2007 to provide financial support to students pursuing unpaid or low-paying summer internships or training programs in organizations promoting social justice and structural change in the United States.  The Social Justice Internships now fund approximately 15 students to work with designated Community Partner organizations focusing on public health, law, community organizing and activism, housing, and community development.  The Community Partners have been selected as they have a proven record of offering meaningful internships, allowing students to gain experience, explore a field as a possible career, live out their personal commitments and values, and meld their academic studies with civic engagement.  

Students selected for these internships are eligible to apply for summer internship funds (up to $5200) to support transportation, savings goals, food, and housing costs during the internship.  Students from all class years are eligible to apply for the Community Partner internships, including graduating seniors. Establishing learning goals, participating in a summer reflection blog, and writing a short reflection essay after the internship are required, and for those on campus in the fall, there is a “bring back” poster session. The program is administered by the Chaplain’s Office in conjunction with the Career Center.

How to Apply

A developing list of Community Partner opportunities is posted in Handshake and in the Social Justice Internship Community Partner Opportunities, Summer 2023 document.

Community Partner Applications are due by 11:58pm CST on February 14, 2023. All class years should apply through Handshake. The selected intern(s) will then apply for funding by 11:58pm CST on April 2, 2023. 

Evaluation Criteria

While the different community partner organizations make the primary decision about how fitting a candidate is for their internship, we recommend thinking about the following assessment questions as you write your cover letter: 

  1. How does the work of the organization and/or the work of the internship fit with the student’s academic pursuits and/or vocation and career goals for the future?
  2. Has the student made the case for his or her genuine interest in the sector of the internship?
  3. What are the student’s desired outcomes for learning, skill building, and personal growth and do they appear to be a good match for the internship position?


In establishing the Carleton Social Justice Internship program, the families of Mike Casper, Paul and Sheila Wellstone, Clem Shearer, and the donors to the Interfaith Social Action Fund and the Broom Fund for Social Justice, hope that dedicated, socially concerned Carleton students will have greater opportunity to enact their ideals, learn through community engagement, explore career paths, and have a positive impact on the wider world.

Barry “Mike” Casper, professor emeritus of physics at Carleton and a leading figure in the peace movement, died on January 27, 2007. Along with close friend and faculty colleague Paul Wellstone, Casper chronicled the story of the 1970s struggles of western Minnesota farmers to oppose a high voltage powerline in the book, Powerline: The First Battle of America’s Energy War (University of Massachusetts Press, 1981).  Never ones to observe from the ivory tower, the duo became central figures, along with a number of their students, in the highly charged protest movement.

Casper later became a key strategist in Wellstone’s 1990 U.S. Senate campaign and his policy adviser in Washington. The experience informed his final book, Lost in Washington: Finding the Way Back to Democracy in America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000).

As a professor, Casper co-created Carleton’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy program and supervised annual policy projects in which students were confronted with pressing societal problems—nuclear weapons proliferation, the AIDS epidemic, a national energy strategy, health care reform—and charged with solving them. Throughout his teaching, Casper put the ideals of equality, sustainability, and social justice into action.

Senator Paul and Sheila Wellstone, along with six others, died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Wellstone was first elected to the United States Senate in 1990 and became an outspoken advocate for many social justice issues and a leading voice for liberal Democrats. His book, Conscience of a Liberal:  Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda (Random House, 2001), still helps to shape the progressive agenda.  His wife Sheila played a critical role in all of Paul’s campaigns and was known for her influential work in issues regarding domestic violence.

A professor of political science at Carleton for 21 years, Wellstone, like Casper, was known for using his professorship as a successful platform for tangible, ground-level social change. Students in introductory political science classes taught by Wellstone found themselves not only challenged to think about issues of poverty and inequality but actually knocking on doors throughout Rice County in an effort to organize around local issues of fairness.  Wellstone described this work in his How the Rural Poor Got Power:  Narrative of a Grass Roots Organizer (University of Massachusetts Press, 1978).

Clement F. Shearer was Carleton’s Dean for Budget and Planning and Professor of Geology when he died in 1998.  Before coming to Carleton, Shearer had a distinguished career in government service, first as a congressional science fellow, then as director of the national hazards program at the U.S. Geological Survey, providing analysis and early warnings for volcanoes, earthquakes and other geologic dangers. He began his tenure at Carleton as the Bernstein Geologist in residence, taught a popular seminar in hydrology in the Geology Department, and became one of the most admired and respected administrators of the College.

In addition to his contributions to the planning and management of the College, Shearer continued to be a strong advocate of community service.  He was a dedicated volunteer leader in many Northfield activities, held several positions on the Board of Directors of the Greater Minneapolis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, and served as advisor to a number of national organizations.  In recognition of his unusual ability to guide individuals through conflict resolution, the Clement F. Shearer Fund for Achieving Common Ground was established through gifts received in his memory. 

The Interfaith Social Action Endowed Fund was established in 2008 to provide support for programs and activities related to the intersection of faith and social action through the Carleton College Chaplain’s Office. The fund has become an important source of support for the Carleton Social Justice Internship Program as well as the activities of the Carleton Interfaith Social Action Group.

The Broom Fund for Social Justice was established in 2013 by Dorothy Broom ’66 to help to build the capacity of students to engage in the important issues of our time.  Dr. Broom, Professor Emerita at the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health at the Australian National University and a Carleton International Trustee since 2001, hopes that through internships in social justice organizations, students will gain knowledge, skills, and vital experience as they deepen their learning, make contributions toward a more just and peaceful society, and explore career options.