Bring Boreas to You

Bring Boreas Leadership Programming to Your Organization

Making progress on the complex challenges of sustainability and the environment demands effective leadership. Society needs leadership at all levels that is effective at working across boundaries and building opportunities for others to act as leaders who are able to contribute to solutions.

Within the landscape of higher education, graduate education is uniquely positioned to develop students as leaders and the change agents society needs to make progress on sustainability and environment challenges. Graduate students develop the intellectual rigor, disciplinary depth, and professional credentials that contribute to the potential for making societal impact, but there are gaps in the training a traditional graduate education offers. The Boreas Leadership Program exists to fill in some of these gaps with leadership skills training, community and network building, and stewardship of a leadership culture that values reflection and action.

Boreas is a program of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Find Out More

Interested in bringing Boreas to your organization? Contact Kristi Kremers, Director of Graduate & Faculty Leadership Programs to start the conversation.

What are Boreas workshops?

The Boreas Leadership Program trains and develops the next generation of world changers to catalyze social and environmental solutions. As a co-curricular program designed and developed for graduate students, workshops are a foundational aspect of Boreas programming and outreach. Our workshops develop a range of leadership skills and perspectives, and they can be offered individually or as a complete series.

Boreas offers 15 workshops in the areas of communications & media, public skills, integrative leadership, systems thinking & tools, and vision & impact. Our vision and impact offerings are currently being piloted and tested and will be offered at a later date.


The Curriculum


Boreas communications and media workshops help prepare participants to communicate complex interdisciplinary issues using experiential activities.

Learn presentation design and delivery best practices. Explore presenting to scientific and general audiences. Improve one of your own presentations.

It’s easier than ever to enter the public conversation through a variety of forums such as Facebook, tweets and tirades at your local bar. Still, a well-crafted opinion piece holds sway. If you have the skills, discipline, rigor and leadership to put your ideas out into this more formal public conversation, you can share your viewpoint with thousands or even millions of influential people. This workshop will introduce you to the art of the op-ed, get you started on your very own op-ed and offer ideas on where you can pitch your finished piece. We bring in experts, including editors from major media outlets, to help.

You have interesting stories to share — stories that can help make the world a better place. And journalists can help you share your story, especially if you help them do their jobs. In this popular Boreas workshop, you’ll get to meet, conduct mock interviews with and learn from local reporters. Learn how to pitch stories and give a great interview.

Storytelling is an important leadership skill if you’re interested in science, policy and having an impact. This workshop will help you understand others’ stories and get better at telling your own. You’ll be able to answer the questions: Why do you do what you do? Why does your work matter? You’ll even gain a few ideas about how you can practice telling your story and so grow your leadership.

What is the world is finding out about you online? How can you be more strategic about that? How can the internet help you advance your career? This workshop will help you think broadly about your online presence and the world of social media.

Boreas public skills workshops prepare students to contribute to policy-making and collaborate with others as both colleagues and citizens.

Mentors, collaborators, colleagues, teams, networks. Leaders, by definition, don’t work alone. Collaborating with others helps us get things done. This workshop will focus on why networks matter, why communities matter and why mentors matter. You’ll acquire new tools to help you think through your own relationships and how to make them better.

In this workshop, we focus on how intercultural competence can be used first, as a starting point for self-awareness, and then from there, how this understanding can funnel out through the lens of intercultural competence with other cultural contexts.

The legislative process is meant to facilitate public conversations about issues. But it’s pretty confusing. This workshop will help you better understand the legislative process and develop strategies for getting involved. Learn about your legislators and discover tools to help you follow the action. Think through how to do more than write a letter to your elected officials. The workshop focuses on the Minnesota legislative process and is led by a former state legislator.

You’ve almost certainly sat through a bad meeting. But have you ever been part of a meeting that feels transformational? Done right, meetings facilitate great work. In this workshop, you will learn and practice new strategies to become a master of meetings. Try out some meeting games, and get ready to harness the contributions of colleagues and collaborators while earning gratitude for not wasting time with bad meetings.

We don’t always agree, especially on really important matters. But we still need to make decisions and figure out how to move forward collectively. Strong negotiation skills will help you facilitate decision-making and make you a better leader. This workshop introduces participants to basic principles of negotiation and provides the opportunity for practice.

The non-profit sector is the source of quite a bit of environmental leadership. But what exactly is the non-profit sector? What does NGO actually stand for? What’s the difference between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4), and what does that even mean? What is a board of directors supposed to do? This workshop will get you up to speed on non-profits, how they work, and some of the governance and legal structures involved. You’ll have a chance to think about the possibility of working for a non-profit or getting involved as a volunteer or board member. And you’ll gain insightful wisdom from a panel of superstars from the environmental non-profit world.

The integrative leadership workshop empowers participants to work across diverse and conflicting disciplines to effectively address environmental challenges.

Solving environmental challenges requires the best efforts of teams of people with diverse skills and perspectives. The Boreas integrative leadership workshop empowers participants with integrative leadership skills for making meaningful progress on tough problems.

The workshop takes place over two days. Participants learn about leadership practices and then practice and apply them in an experiential, learning lab format. Participants sharpen their abilities to address common challenges in leading diverse groups working on wicked environmental problems, practice conflict management and polarity mapping tools for engaging in thorny environmental dilemmas, learn from examples of successful integrative leadership, and build networks among participants with differing perspectives and skills.

The systems thinking and tools workshop develops participants’ ability to deconstruct, describe and address environmental problems using systems tools.

The complexity of the social, biological and physical worlds often defies human intuition. Few people are prepared to work through the complexity within a discipline, much less through problems that transcend disciplines.

Systems thinking is a set of approaches and modeling tools used to describe and simulate the interactions among components of complex systems. With these tools, systems thinking provides insights into the functioning of systems and solutions to today’s difficult problems. This two-day workshop introduces the vocabulary and skills needed to think about, unravel and build models of real-world problems.

Participants will learn to fend off simplistic and static thinking with tools as diverse as causal loop diagrams, stocks, flows, time lags and simple computer modeling. Connections with leadership challenges will also be part of the mix.

As a Ph.D. student who is unsure of my post-graduation career trajectory, the skills I have learned in Boreas workshops, the networking I have done during Booyas, and the refinement and practice of leadership I have gained as part of the student advisory board have been invaluable as I increasingly learn to present myself as a professional.
Portrait: Reba Juetten

Reba Jeutten

PhD Student History of Science and Technology
The presentations workshop gave me many fresh new ideas to incorporate into future presentations to make them more captivating to audiences rather than force feeding content to the listener. We had the opportunity to present to other students on a topic we have been researching, and get feedback from the audience on ways to make it more understandable to a diverse audience not as well versed in the subject.
Portrait: Greg Videen

Greg Videen

MBA Student Carlson School of Management
Boreas workshops are aimed to make one think about the problems from various perspectives. As a PhD student, I learnt how my research can be applied in a collaborative and inter-disciplinary environment. These workshops also help one to grow professionally, become a better leader and network effectively.
Portrait: Nitish Mital

Nitish Mittal

Chemical Engineering and Material Science PhD Student