The Leadership for Social Good (LSG) Study Abroad program under Scheller College of Business’ Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE), is taking applications from students across disciplines for its summer semester abroad.
Started in 2011, the program is led by co-founder Dori Pap, assistant director, Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE), co-founder Bob Thomas, director of ILE’s Cowan-Turner Servant Leadership Program and Nicole Little, Communications Program Manager. “The program increases students’ understanding of the most pressing societal challenges, and it equips them with leadership skills, and global competence that they can practice in their future careers and contribute to developing more just, caring, and sustainable societies,” said Pap about the program.
The assignments may take students to urban farms that address the need for a locally grown and economically-accessible food source while creating employment for refugees, to system-level solutions for solving chronic homelessness in Atlanta, to affecting policy at the EU level to preserve biodiversity or increasing the competitiveness of businesses in Hungary. Students roll up their sleeves to work on real-world challenges for non-profit organizations serving their community’s needs. “These are skills and experiences one cannot teach in a classroom setting on campus – that is why experiential learning, combined with cross-cultural understanding is a crucial component of education at Georgia Tech. It is rewarding to be part of a higher education institution that champions these opportunities for all students,” Pap stated.
The program provides an opportunity to make a positive impact globally by working with non-profit partner organizations in Budapest, Hungary, Prague, Czech Republic, and Vienna, Austria through a nine-week program that integrates three courses into the time spent abroad. Additional examples of previous student projects include working with at-risk youth in an after-school program, supporting art therapy programs for young adults with autism, or promoting a circular economy solution to food waste management converting used cooking oil into biogas.
According to Daniel Son, a recent participant and graduate of Tech’s Masters of City and Regional Planning program the “goal is to learn about the nonprofit sector and social enterprises in each of those cities to gain a better understanding of how organizations are tackling different and similar issues across the world.”
In Hungary, the program works with long-term community partners to address well-defined needs and finds new projects through partner recommendations and in conjunction with Corvinus University’s Science Shop which is similar to Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain. “Every spring we reach out to our pool of partners and ask about their needs and develop student projects by matching need with student skill and interest,” said Pap. Partners trust the program by seeing results and often seek additional assistance with ongoing projects. Pap provided an example of how students working with repeat partners can assist in crucial changes to a non-profit’s offerings to the community. “Our multi-year collaboration with Never Give Up Cafe, a social enterprise owned and operated by people with disabilities in Budapest, started with the first group of students developing an online presence for the business just after they opened; the next group of students helping to diversify their revenue-model by exploring corporate partnership for their lunch program; the third group of students working closely with leadership on the submission of an EU grant that was awarded a year later, so last summer, based on that grant, the students worked on setting up the framework of an international network of cafes with similar mission.”
Students are responsible for program fees and tuition is covered by Hope/Zell Miller scholarships for those who are eligible. Additionally, the ILE offers two types of scholarships (Munchak and Cowan-Turner) for students with financial needs. “We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to study abroad and we recognize that many times those who deserve this experience the most are the least likely to be able to afford it. Luckily study abroad is strongly supported at Georgia Tech so, beyond the scholarships we offer, there are several others offered through the Office of International Education (OIE) that students are eligible for. And through the generosity of Scheller alumni, we have additional scholarships that support Scheller students planning to study abroad,” Pap explained.
Students returning from the program are asked to write a blog of their experiences, which are kept on the LSG website. After they complete the program, students can add their experiences to their resumes and many go on exploring careers that focus on community engagement and social impact.
To view previous stories from students participating in the program including the latest entry from Daniel Son or to learn more about the program, visit the Leadership for Study Abroad website.
The Leadership for Social Good is one of Serve-Learn-Sustain’s signature study abroad programs and participating in the program fulfills the Engage criteria for SLS’ Innovating for Social Impact pathway. The three management courses offered on the program also qualify for the Leadership Minor (Business Track).