"Sorensen was a phenomenal experience. Not only did I learn the value and importance of state government, but it encouraged me to grow and to think outside the box. Aside from making wonderful friends, Sorensen underscored the significance of making even the smallest contribution to our Commonwealth. I learned that every little bit matters."Â
College Leaders Program
The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership offers an advanced program on public service and leadership for college students. The program is based on a firm belief that young people not only can make a positive difference in their communities, they should be strongly encouraged to do so. Our College Leaders Program (CLP) gives students the practical skills and political knowledge to become effective advocates in government and business. The CLP is held each summer for two weeks on grounds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The program features a Virginia-focused, multidisciplinary curriculum with three main goals:
- To prepare future leaders for ethical and responsible citizenship and public service in the Commonwealth.
- To connect Virginia's youth leaders from different backgrounds and philosophies with each other and with current leaders in the government, business, and non-profit sectors.
- To energize our democratic system of government by promoting civic engagement among youth leaders.
In 2007 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized the Sorensen Institute's College and High School Leaders Programs as among the very best in the nation and something of a national model when it comes to giving young people the skills and motivation to become politically engaged in their communities. Click here to meet the alumni of our College Leaders Program. And to learn about the history of this program and of the Sorensen Institute, click here.
The CLP curriculum is divided into three primary learning modules:
The Informed Citizen: Virginia Government and Politics—focuses on the basics of Virginia state and local government; who the players are, how government functions, and what the primary issues facing Virginia are.
The Thoughtful Citizen: Virginia Public Policy—explores how public policy is formed and debated in the Commonwealth. Students learn how to engage positively and effectively in policy debates and learn how they can influence public policy.
The Active Citizen: The Tools of Modern Advocacy—gives students the hands-on training and real-world skills that they will need to make their ideas a reality. They will learn how to write a powerful op-ed, to pitch stories to the media
and hold press conferences, to give effective radio and television interviews, and to personally lobby issues with legislators.
All of our faculty members are experts on Virginia politics as well as experienced and dedicated to teaching young people about the importance of state and local government. The two primary faculty members for our College Leaders Program include:
Dr. Quentin Kidd—a professor of government and Chair of the Department of Government at Christopher Newport University. He is also the Director of CNU's Center for Public Policy. Dr. Kidd is a founding member of our faculty.
Dr. Stephen Bragaw—a professor of American Politics and Chair of the Department of Government and International Affairs at Sweet Briar College. The Director of Sweet Briar's Law & Society program, he teaches courses on public policy, American political and legal development, social movements and the law, as well as American politics and popular culture.
Click here to learn more about our faculty members.
A typical College Leaders Program class includes approximately 25 students. All undergraduates at Virginia colleges and universities, or Virginia residents attending a college out of state, are eligible to participate in the program. Those students who will be seniors at the time of the application are eligible as well. Students come from throughout Virginia, representing a diverse variety of communities.
A CLP class will typically include students that represent arts and sciences, business, and applied sciences. Past classes have included students majoring in Political Science, Elementary Education, International Relations, Economics, Biology, Communications, Women's Studies, Sociology, Music, Leadership, Philosophy, English, History, Anthropology, Historic Preservation, Environmental Studies, Public Policy and Urban Studies, among others. This program is for all students who are keenly interested in learning more about leadership and public service, not just those who study politics.
Each class aims to reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Virginia's population. The program attracts students who will be leaders in all aspects of life in the Commonwealth.
The College Leaders Program applicant pool is evaluated to create a highly qualified and diverse class. Competition to participate in the program is particularly rigorous. Participants will be chosen from among all academic majors. Interviews are usually conducted in March and admissions decisions are mailed in early April. Students for the program are chosen through a careful selection process that includes the following considerations:
- complete application and essay
- academic record
- letters of reference
- personal interview—a select number of qualified finalists will be contacted for a brief in-person interview. The interviews are conducted by board members, alumni, and staff.
We are currently accepting applications for the CLP. All applications must be submitted by Monday, March 4, 2013 at 5:00pm to be considered.
To be eligible for the College Leaders Program, applicants must be:
- a student at a college or university in Virginia, or be a Virginia resident attending school in another state
- 24 years of age or younger (including graduating seniors)
- in good academic standing at an accredited institution.
The application includes the following components:
- the online application, which includes a one-page essay.
- the applicant's most recent transcript, showing all college coursework. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
- one letter of recommendation.
The cost of the College Leaders Program 2013 program is $1,800, which covers all instructional materials, events, room, board, meals, and any related travel costs (field trips). The CLP will take place from Saturday, June 1 to Saturday, June 15.
If you would like to refer a candidate to our College Leaders Program, please visit our referrals page. Information provided will only be used to contact potential candidates about applying for our program.
Scholarships for program tuition are available. Potential applicants are strongly urged to apply regardless of financial concerns. Click here to learn more about available scholarships and financial aid.
Students can earn either three undergraduate credits for an additional fee, set by the University. Students taking the credit option will have one additional assignment in the program.
The 2013 College Leaders Program will take place from Saturday, June 1 to Saturday, June 15. All students are housed at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for the duration of the program. Aside from some field trips, the students will spend most of their time on grounds at the University.
A typical program day starts at 8am with breakfast, and class begins promptly at 9am. Lectures, presentations, discussions, and workshops run throughout the day with multiple breaks and lunch. Dinner is served each evening around 6pm, after which students have free time. Two to three Program Managers, all of whom are alumni of the College or High School Leaders Programs, live on site with the students and are available at all times. On the last day of the program a ceremonial graduation is held at the University. Family and friends are encouraged to attend.
If you have any questions about the College Leaders Program,
contact Lauren Gilbert at 434-243-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to refer someone to our program, please visit our referrals page.
Trust, Civility and Respect in Politics