Undergraduate Leaders Program

Group of students seated conversing amiably

Sustainability Education’s Undergraduate Leaders Program helps emerging undergraduate leaders become real-world change makers committed to solutions-focused leadership. It encourages holistic thinking and respects the diverse skills and perspectives each leader brings to the table. All undergraduates are welcome to apply. Participants learn:

  • how we use lenses of equity, reciprocity, justice and diversity to define and think about sustainability
  • how science, creativity, art, healing practices and diverse ways of knowing can be brought together to make sustainability more interdisciplinary and inclusive
  • how different versions of sustainability fit into the big picture governance and policy frameworks.

The application period for the program begins in early September of each year and closes late September each year.

The 2016–2017 application is now closed.  Please check back again next fall! If you would like more information or are interested in supporting the next generation of environmental change-makers, please email susted@umn.edu.

Place, Relationships, and Expression Framework

Students will use a framework based in place, relationships and expression to explore concepts of leadership through hands-on, project-based learning.

Place is the context for change and growing identities.
Relationships are the web of interconnections to foster community and action.
Expression is the medium to renew our world and leverage change.

Students will be exposed to hands-on field experiences, guest lectures, film and reading materials, event organization, etc., to grow and center in these leadership concepts and move towards a community-based project that uses creative expression to affect change and “restory” place.

Leaders will explore how to listen to the many identities of place, community and self to expand their boundaries, question their worldview and unearth deeper connections to place. The program seeks to nurture a cultural fabric for inclusive, equitable and ecological relationships grounded in reciprocity, citizenship and stewardship.  It seeks to empower change agents and inspire a value shift through community building activities and expression.


We accept online applications at the start of each school year. The application period for our 2016–17 program is now closed.  Please check back again next fall!  Please contact Beth Mercer-Taylor with questions.

University of Minnesota undergraduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds with a passion for sustainability and experience in leadership are eligible to apply.

The program is year-long. Program participants can expect to commit to one meeting per month as well as various events, symposium, and field trips throughout the year. There will also be a full-day Saturday kick off in the beginning of the program. You can find a more detailed program flow and timeline here.

The 2016 kickoff workshop will be held Saturday, October 1, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monthly cohort meetings take place in the evening, finding an evening and location that works for most members (e.g., third Wednesday of each month).

No, applicants admitted to the program must attend all scheduled program events. Rare exceptions can be made.