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PL Final

Public Leadership

Examining today's events to develop tomorrow's leaders

Introduction

As a nation and as a world, we face multiple urgent challenges, from unemployment to climate change. How might our differing perspectives play into how we address these problems? And how do we assess what could work, and why?

Public Leadership (PL) focuses on current events and policy issues to explore the theory and practice of leadership. Students are encouraged to use their own leadership skills to address pressing social, political, environmental and economic problems. They explore:

  • Different models of leadership, citizenship and social change;
  • Forms of power and how to use them effectively; and
  • Ethical approaches to decision-making and negotiation.

Through panels, debates, role-playing, group discussion and dialogue with guest speakers, PL students become informed citizens able to engage in a healthy discussion of issues and reason critically and persuasively about public matters. Personal and professional development are also integrated into the curriculum: Students will develop their writing and presentation skills; learn negotiation fundamentals; and accurately assess their own leadership styles and strengths.

PL welcomes students of all majors who are committed to developing their leadership skills in pursuit of the common good.

Colloquium and Lecture Topics

  • Leadership and social change application
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Persuasion and motivation
  • Understanding leadership strengths in yourself and others 

Joining the PL program was one of the best decisions I made at Maryland. Because of PL, many career opportunities opened for me that otherwise would have been a long shot, and the floormates I lived with in the PL dorms are some of the best friends I've made at UMD.

Amir Kalantary
Amir Kalantary '22

Other Learning Opportunities

Located near the nation's capital, the state capital and a large international diplomatic community, the University of Maryland is an ideal setting for examining and growing public leadership. Students:

  • Take engaging field trips, such as to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. Capitol and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts;
  • Experience professional development seminars and speaker events; and
  • Participate in a team-based grant-making experience, where they seek grant proposals from campus student organizations serving an identified social issue, evaluate proposals and award grants with actual funding from the Do Good Institute.

Finally, through the program’s practicum requirement, students gain valuable professional experience that allows them to leverage their newly learned communications and leadership evaluation skills in their field of choice. Past students have interned on Congressional committees, for local nonprofits, in the Student Legal Aid office and even engaged in research in labs on and off campus.

Curriculum Overview

Over the two-year program experience (four semesters), students will complete a 3-credit oral communication course that will count toward their PL Scholars citation and General Education requirements. Note that your Scholars courses will generally be in addition to any courses you take to satisfy major requirements.

The following table represents a typical two-year curriculum, but individual schedules may vary. Details about courses and requirements can be found on the PL Citation Checklist.

SEMESTER COURSE CREDITS
Freshman Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Public Leaders and Active Citizens 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course) 9–12 credits
Freshman Spring Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Academic Writing 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements 9–12 credits
Sophomore Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Oral Communications Course (may be taken during any of the 4 semesters) 3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course) 9–12 credits
Sophomore Spring Scholars Practicum 3 credits
4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements (including oral communications course if not already completed) 12–15 credits

Sponsoring College

School of Public Policy

Residence Hall

Cumberland Hall

Office Address

1120 Cumberland Hall

Office Phone

301-405-3013

Faculty

Portrait of Susannah Washburn

Susannah Washburn

Program Director, Public Leadership
Portrait of Kelly Brower

Kelly Brower

Assistant Director, Public Leadership

Social Media Etc.


Public Leadership News

Showing 1 - 6 of 32
  • Numerous Scholars Earn University Student Leadership Awards

    The Annual University Student Leadership Awards program recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of our student leaders and scholars. Through this program, the university aims to acknowledge the exceptional academic performances and contributions to the University of Maryland community and surrounding neighborhoods made by students.Numerous Scholars were finalists and recipients of several of UMD's top awards.

  • Fourteen Scholars Named Class of 2024 Senior Marshals

    Senior Marshals are graduating seniors who have demonstrated the highest levels of scholarship, service to the campus community, extracurricular involvement, and personal growth. The University of Maryland Senior Marshals represent graduating seniors who have demonstrated the highest levels of scholarship, service to the campus community, extracurricular involvement, and personal growth.

  • PL's Susannah Washburn Receives Donna Hamilton Teaching Award

    Susannah Washburn, the director of College Park Scholars' Public Leadership program, was recently awarded the 2024 Donna B. Hamilton Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Office of Undergraduate Studies (UGST) Programs. She becomes the fourth College Park Scholars program director to earn the honor, following Dr. Elisabeth Maring, who leads the Global Public Health program (2022), Kalyani Chadha, former director of Media, Self and Society (2015) and David A. Crocker, former director of the Public Leadership program (2012).

  • PL Alum Receives Student Award from BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance

    The Bowie State University and University of Maryland Social Justice Alliance (SJA) recently hosted its sixth annual Symposium at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on the College Park campus.The Bowie State University and University of Maryland Social Justice Alliance is dedicated to eradicating the ideology of intolerance, while confronting individuals and combatting systems that normalize indifference, justify injustice, perpetuate hate and inflict violence. The SJA is committed to social justice change through advocacy and action that impacts local, state, national, and global challenges.

  • PL Alum Reflects on Making the Most of Her Smith School Experience - Miriam Oke ’24

    When she walks across the Commencement stage to collect her diploma, Miriam Oke ’24 can undoubtedly say she left her mark on the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.Oke, a Public Leadership Scholars alum and finance major with a minor in nonprofit leadership and social innovation at the Smith School, knew even before she took her first steps on campus as a student that she wanted a college experience predicated on forging connections and building communities. During the next four years, she did that and more.

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