We Believe in a Better Future


Our Vision

We envision a world where individuals and communities have the freedom, capabilities and resources to lead the lives they find value in, without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.


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Our History

Learn more about the history of IVS and how we evolved from a study abroad organization to focus on community development and community engagement

Founded in 1999, the Institute emerged as a way to connect students in the United States with village communities around the world. We sought to provide students with an understanding of the deep value of indigenous knowledge and grounded connections to place even in a globalizing world. As we were invited to participate in village life, we formed close relationships based on respect and reciprocity. Over time, they begin to talk with us about their difficulties and their dreams, and we asked how we could be a resource in supporting their visions for a better future.

Since then, our mission has grown organically to include more robust support for community-driven development and research, while maintaining a core goal of fostering meaningful cross-cultural relationships. We approach this work with a huge dose of humility and let our community partners guide our involvement in the manner they believe will be most valuable.


Meet Our People

Faculty & Staff

IVS faculty and staff work together to provide unique study abroad and travel programs that support local community development efforts

Board of Directors

Our board advocates for a more sustainable, less traditional approach to community development and international education

LEAD Board

Our Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) Board is committed social & environmental justice in Bellingham and abroad