Leadership Institute

Transform your passion for social justice into action.

Current events have made one thing abundantly clear: people, and young people in particular, are advocating for change. Through the Brown Leadership Institute—no matter your current level of engagement—you’ll increase your ability and effectiveness in advancing social justice.

Students laughing in a Leadership Institute course.In this four-week online program, you’ll meet students from all over the world who are passionate about a wide variety of issues, including topics such as human rights, educational access and economic justice. You’ll spend your days in class delving into compelling topics in a course of your choosing. Conversations will continue over Zoom, in small group virtual sessions or student-lead discussion threads, as you grapple with complex problems and brainstorm possible solutions together. Along the way, you’ll practice a collaborative model of leadership in and out of class, as you also hone your skills in active listening, public speaking, problem-solving, conflict resolution and teamwork. Building on all of this new knowledge, you’ll develop an action plan you can take home and apply in your community.

What to Study?

Select one course of study from an array of options, each focusing on current social issues and topics. Past courses have included:

  • Women and Leadership
  • Leadership and Conflict Resolution
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Law and Social Change
  • The Future of Science and Technology
  • Immigration and Refugee Policy in the United States
  • Leadership and Global Health


Program Snapshot

Students completing grades 9–12, ages 14–18 by June 21, 2021 for online courses

Enroll in one course for the 4-week online program

June 21-August 18

Online through Canvas, Brown’s Learning Management System


  • Join a community of young leaders who are committed to social change.
  • Practice socially responsible leadership and develop a meaningful action plan.
  • Gain guidance, insight and empowerment to address critical issues in meaningful and sustainable ways.
  • Concentrate on learning without the pressure of formal grades.
  • Receive a Course Performance Report and Certificate of Completion when you successfully finish.



Participating in the Leadership Institute online offers all the benefits of online study at Brown, supplemented by twice-weekly synchronous workshops and small-group breakout sessions with other students in the Institute. In these sessions, you have the opportunity to further enhance your leadership skills, explore socially responsible leadership and work to develop a meaningful action plan. Studying online gives you the freedom to decide when and where you learn. And with more time to reflect, read and write, you can enhance important critical thinking skills and strengthen your capacity for self-discipline and personal responsibility; skills that are necessary for success in both in-person and online learning environments.

A typical day

Plan to spend a couple hours each day (and about 15-20 hours per week) on a variety of activities related directly to the course you are taking.  Most days you will be doing some independent reading, engaging in written discussions sessions with classmates, listening to a guest lecturer or a video from your instructor, and meeting in small groups.  Twice a week your classmates will come together for synchronous workshops. You will also meet virtually with faculty for one-on-one support, and throughout the course engage with students in a community of learners all committed to effecting positive change in their communities and in the world.  

And outside of “class,” you’ll have the opportunity to engage with students taking other courses in a range of activities that help you grow as a student and as a person. See Your Virtual Community for more information.

This program is not offered on campus in Summer 2021.


Please note: Leadership Institute is not offered on campus in Summer 2021. 

To build a strong learning community, you will be housed with other Leadership Institute students on campus in the same Brown University residence halls. Students living on campus eat their meals in Brown’s dining halls and have access to the University’s libraries, study centers and Writing Center. Although your time will be limited, you’ll also have the opportunity to engage with other students in a range of activities that help you grow as a person. See Life on the Brown Campus for more information.

A typical day

7:30 – 9:00 am Breakfast in a dining hall
9:00 – 11:30 am Class time
11:30 am – 1:00 pm Lunch in a dining hall
1:00 – 3:00 pm Class time
3:15 – 5:00 pm Leadership workshops
Past summer’s topics include: Introduction to Leadership Styles; Exploring Identity and Privilege
5:00 – 6:00 pm Free time for homework or co-curricular activities
6:00 – 7:30 pm Dinner in a dining hall
7:30 – 10:00 pm Free time for homework or co-curricular activities
Students will have 1-3 hours of homework each day
10:00 pm Curfew

Program Director