The Study of the U.S. Branch has sponsored Student Leader Institutes since 2003 and has funded Student Leader Institutes on the Environment since 2008. These Institutes are in high demand and past Institutes have been very successful.
The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) for Student Leaders are intensive academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills. The Institutes will consist of a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures. The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by educational travel, site visits, leadership activities, and volunteer opportunities. The Institutes will include an academic residency component of approximately four weeks and a domestic study tour of approximately one week. During the academic residency, participants will also have the opportunity to engage in educational and cultural activities outside of the classroom.
The four week academic residency will explore the role that environmental policy has played in the economic and political development of the United States. The Institute will use experiential learning techniques to expose participants to current themes in the field, including natural resource management, sustainable development/sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, energy generation (new and traditional forms), and water management and treatment. The issues will be explored from numerous angles: local grassroots activism and civic initiatives, market-oriented approaches, and federal government policies and regulation. Finally, the Institute will explore environmental issues in the context of a globalized society, and draw comparisons between the United States and the participants’ home countries. Students will also have the opportunity to leave the classroom to meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations. The academic residency will be complemented by an educational tour that will take participants to another area of the U.S. where they will meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field. The Institute will then conclude with a 3 day program in Washington, D.C.
The participants are expected to be highly motivated first through third year undergraduate students from colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. Their fields of study can vary, and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields. Emphasis should be made on recruiting participants from non-elite backgrounds, from both rural and urban sectors, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside their home country. In addition, recruitment of participants should be focused on historically underserved, indigenous groups, and ethnic minority communities.
Candidates nominated for this program will:
- be proficient in English;
- have a strong interest in the environment;
- be between 18 and 25 years of age;
- have at least one semester left of their undergraduate studies, and therefore be committed to return to their home universities following completion of the program;
- demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university and community activities;
- indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
- have a sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
- demonstrate commitment to community and extracurricular university activities;
- have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of their home country;
- be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive;
- be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and educational travel; and,
- be comfortable with campus life, prepared to share living accommodations, and able to make adjustments to cultural and social practices different from those of their home country.