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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: San Francisco, United States
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Union applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.8
Program Description:

San Francisco, one of the most eclectic and beautiful cities in the US, offers everything from national parks, to niche art communities, and a bustling downtown. Historically, San Francisco has been home to risk-takers and independent thinkers, from the frontiersman of the 1800s to the counter culture movement of the 1960s and the tech visionaries of today, who are re-imagining the way we interact with the world.

Students experience this rich and progressive culture while doing internships in Bay Area startups and NGOs.

Course of Study

Students will take three courses during the term. One course will enable students to gain research skills, notably participant observation, interviewing and recording field data. There will be another course that deals with the history of Silicon Valley and the culture of its startups. The third class, an internship, give students work experience with Bay Area companies, organizations, and NGOs.

The internships with startups provide an opportunity for students to learn how new businesses capture new markets, develop new products, and enhance their organizational effectiveness through improving productivity and innovation.

Whether working for a startup or an NGO, Students examine and record in daily field notes the activities, values and practices of the organizations they work for. Students explore frameworks, strategies, funding techniques, business models, risks, and barriers to introducing break-through products and services. The emphasis is on experiential learning; the data students gather through their work experience are written up at the end of the term in an ethnography of the workplace.

Students are at their internships Monday-Thursday with Friday devoted to a mix of seminar, lecture, guest speakers, and local field trips.


Three excursions are made to different locations in Northern California, including Napa-Sonoma Wine Country, Monterrey-Big Sur, and Yosemite National Park. Each setting will have a different theme with visits to worksites and guest speakers focusing on innovation and creativity.  In wine country, for example, students look at innovation in viticulture in a vineyard tour, and then visit several wineries to learn about innovation in winemaking, winery and tasting room design.  In addition, Friday day trips are made to Silicon Valley to tour (Apple, Google, E-bay, Uber, Stanford Research Institute) and meet with Union alumni who work in these firms.




Each student shares a room suite with one other Union student in downtown San Francisco.


For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)

  • April: Application deadline is the third Friday of spring term
  • May: Accepted students must select "commit" or "decline" at the International Programs online application site to confirm participation 
  • Fall term: Orientation meetings
  • Early January: Program begins
  • Late March: Program ends

For More Information

Students may contact George Gmelch, Professor of Anthropology

Video about the summer program in Creativity and Innovation in San Francisco

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.