Aug 31, 2011

Emerging Global Leaders Participate in RCLA Social Change Leadership Institute

The Research Center for Leadership in Action held its inaugural Global Social Change Leadership Institute (GSCLI) at NYU Wagner from July 10-22, 2011.   Throughout the two-week program, a dynamic group of undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates built the knowledge, strategy and skills to be successfully advance social change in communities across the world. 

The cohort of 18 participants brought knowledge and experience in social change work from across the United States and several countries throughout Asia, Africa, South, Central and North America, Europe, and the Middle East. The participants were chosen for their academic and volunteer work, professional experience and demonstrated passion for social change issues.

The Institute aimed to strengthen participants' leadership abilities and skills, share the latest research on leadership and social change, provide opportunities for students to interact with organizations at the forefront of advancing social justice, and create a network of other committed advocates. As part of translating their learning into long-term results, each participant created and presented an Action Plan to implement in his/her own school or community.

Courses were taught by NYU Wagner faculty and scholars who brought their expertise and insight to various leadership topics.

Each morning session was introduced by daily reflection sessions, facilitated by RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe and Deputy Director Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla. Additionally, academic sessions were complemented with afternoon site visits to New York City landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum and the United Nations headquarters, as well as nonprofit organizations working for social change, including the Brotherhood/Sister Sol and the International Women's Health Coalition. 

Program highlights included:

  • RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe and RCLA Deputy Director Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla's joint session on leadership as a collective achievement;
  • John Gershman's session, Re-thinking Power in the Global Context, which included a hands-on commodity chain mapping exercise to help participants think about the visible and invisible forms of power in the global sphere;
  • a conversation with Andrew Russell of the United Nations Development Program and an in-depth tour of  the United Nations;
  • a visit to Brotherhood/Sister-Sol, a Harlem-based nonprofit making significant measurable improvements in the lives of Harlem youth;
  • RCLA Faculty Director Sonia Ospina's session exploring the leadership practices need to produce change with impact;
  • a discussion with NYU Wagner Professor David Elcott on the effective framing of issues by public service institutions and community organizing groups;
  • an interactive workshop with Echoing Green Senior Vice President Lara Galinsky, the author of Work on Purpose, who challenged students to identify their sharpest skills, innate gifts and passions; and
  • a graduation ceremony and luncheon celebration.

GSCLI students felt that their experience in the Institute significantly increased their confidence and focus in social change work. One student commented, "The Institute helped me develop a renewed sense of focus on community initiatives."

The cohort also deeply valued the diversity of the group and praised the strong interpersonal bonds that resulted in "life-long friends and ... a strong worldwide support system."

Students left the Institute with growth in personal leadership. One student shared, "I feel so much more inspired to take action and initiate projects and ideas that I'm passionate about ... I feel more confident in myself as a leader."

Another student said, "It was a transformational experience for me as a leader. It enabled me to connect with myself, my core values and my passion."

The Global Social Change Leadership Institute will be offered again from July 8-20, 2012, and will begin accepting applications for its next cohort in fall 2011.

Please contact Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Director of the Global Social Change Leadership Institute, with any questions at

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