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Boreas: A stew of leadership opportunities

What sets leaders apart from the pack? Is it the ability to influence change? Is it being able to bridge a communication gap between diverse voices? Students are exploring these questions and many others through the Boreas Leadership Program.

The Institute on the Environment’s Boreas Leadership Program offers University of Minnesota graduate, professional and post-doctoral students free leadership development opportunities that build on the strengths of graduate education to help students become effective change agents. Boreas offers several avenues for students to connect, including workshops and professional networking nights called “booyas” throughout the semester.

Booyas are occasions that foster community, where people gather and share ideas, everyone throwing something into the pot, says Boreas director Kate Knuth. On select Thursdays, Boreas participants can meet each other, learn from professional guest speakers and get re-inspired on their leadership journey. At the fall kickoff on Sept. 22, students will have a chance to interact with other change makers and get to know the student advisory team of 14 graduate students from colleges across the UMN system.

The Big Boreas Booya, happening on Oct. 6, is fast becoming a fall tradition at IonE. It’s an occasion to gather the Boreas campus community around a communal pot and talk about a stew of leadership issues. A 10-gallon pot of stew — booya — will start cooking in the morning. In the afternoon, a panel of university deans will discuss the question, “What kind of leadership does it take to make progress on environment and sustainability challenges?” and take student questions before the stew is served. Learn about the tradition of booyas in this Star Tribune article. 

Boreas also offers a series of workshops in four key areas: communications and media, integrative leadership, public skills, and systems thinking and tools. They range from several hours to daylong hands-on learning opportunities that can propel participants into the next phase of their careers. “I really learned a lot from the two workshops I’ve attended,” says ecology, evolution and behavior Ph.D. student and Boreas student adviser Siddharth Iyengar. “The presentations workshop especially has changed the way I think of how to deliver content to my audiences, and how I teach undergraduates about making presentations.” Participants in the workshops will be introduced to and have a chance to practice useful skills and make a plan for applying them in different leadership contexts.

Visit the Boreas website for more details.

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