Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Record Update First

Weeklong seminar prepares students for global leadership roles

Many U-M students traveled to warmer climates for spring break, but 42 of them went north to focus on building the essential skills needed to be effective leaders in a diverse, global environment.

The Intercultural Leadership Seminar (ILS) sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs through the Office of Student Activities & Leadership offers the most extensive, retreat-style, intercultural leadership training for students within the Big Ten.

“From our research, the University of Michigan is the only institution that has committed funding and staff to provide a comprehensive intercultural development program for students,” says Susan Wilson, director of the Office of Student Activities & Leadership.

Now in its 13th year, ILS challenges participants to think critically about creating inclusive environments and to analyze the intersection of leadership and intercultural interactions in a group setting. With support from the College of Engineering, International Center, University Research Opportunity Program and Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, ILS helps to prepare students for working in diverse, international member teams.

Students who complete the ILS program acquire unique perspectives, skills and knowledge from the experience that will serve them well upon graduating, program leaders say.

“ILS gave me an opportunity to apply what I was learning in (anthropology) class, and since I’ve returned, class has become an opportunity to apply what I learned at ILS,” says Jose Davila, a third-year student majoring in microbiology. “Since my eventual goal is to work in the field of social medicine, ILS was invaluable in helping me move beyond the scientific, and start to see that there is a lot more involved in sickness and health than just biomedicine.”

This year participants came from a wide range of academic disciplines, including CoE, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Rackham Graduate School, School of Kinesiology, School of Art & Design and LSA.

A team of staff members leads the program in an atmosphere where students can analyze the complexity of culture and its impact on community, dialogue and work.

“I’m able to look at my campus experience and life in general through a different perspective now,” says Doug Roehler, a graduating senior in LSA who in the fall will enter graduate program in the School of Public Health. “I can more easily recognize areas of privilege and oppression throughout campus and I have gained the tools to understand.”

The seminar is held at Camp Michigania overlooking Walloon Lake near Petoskey. The six-day program is free for U-M students, and includes all lodging, transportation, meals and snacks. Students seeking admission to the program must complete an application during fall term.

For more information about ILS go to