NSights Blog

International scholars to enhance understanding of public service

United States Institutes for student leaders visit to include weekend home host experience

The summer of 2019 marks another major milestone for international work and relations at the University of Nevada, Reno. For the first time, the University will host approximately 20 advanced undergraduate student leaders from Bangladesh, Colombia, Malaysia and Poland for a "Rule of Law and Public Service" education and engagement institute. Developed in honor of Senator John McCain as part of the Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI) for Student Leaders, the program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by the Meridian International Center. The Northern Nevada International Center is leading this institute at the University in collaboration with the Judicial Studies and Justice Management Graduate Degree Programs.

During the June 22-July 21, 2019 institute, visiting students - most from prominent military academies in their home countries - will attend academic sessions taught by expert faculty and local professionals covering the operation of the U.S. government and NGOs with a particular focus on the rule of law, justice, and public service. Students also will be involved in regular community engagement and cultural activities, including visits to local and regional attractions (e.g., rodeo, Lake Tahoe) and public service systems (e.g., court, homeless shelter). To help prepare and support students for this intensive experience, they will participate in orientation sessions with diversity and inclusion experts (e.g., Dr. Melanie Duckworth), will be matched with "student ambassadors" from the University to offer support and guidance during the visit, and will have the opportunity for a weekend home host experience* during their time in Northern Nevada. Concluding the institute will be a study tour to Atlanta, Georgia and a final convening in Washington, D.C. with participants from other SUSIs across the country.

In being selected for the highly competitive SUSI program, the University - which recently achieved R1 Carnegie classification - joins a consortium of universities coordinating these institutes, including Bard College, Temple University, the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts. In total, there are 19 SUSIs planned for 2019 across the nation on topics ranging from policymaking to social entrepreneurship. We are excited and honored to join this project and the participating group of prestigious institutions of higher learning, and believe both the University and Northern Nevada has much to offer our guests, visitors and SUSI in general.

The academic component of the institute is led by myself and Dr. Angela Lee from the Judicial Studies and Justice Management Graduate Degree Programs, which are located within the College of Liberal Arts and School for Social Research and Justice Studies. Academic coursework will cover the history, theory and operations of the U.S. legislative process, executive branch and court system. As part of the expected academic work, students will be exposed to the system improvement and leadership development work of The National Judicial College and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, who together with the Judicial Studies Graduate Degree Program, comprise the one-of-a-kind Epicenter for Judicial Education housed at the University. The institute curriculum places special attention on the role of leadership and public service, and students will have opportunities to network and learn together with U.S. undergraduate colleagues.

The community engagement and cultural enrichment component of the institute is led by Dr. Carina Black and Nilufer Leuthold at the Northern Nevada International Center. Students will have substantial opportunities for guided community service (e.g., food bank), leadership development (e.g., Air National Guard visit), and cultural enrichment (e.g., weekend trip to San Francisco). As noted, with a particular focus on public service and leadership in this SUSI, students will draw from both these experiences and the academic work to develop a final project designed to improve some aspect of their community/system/government upon return to their home country.

Ultimately, the purpose of SUSI and this particular institute is to enhance the understanding of emerging international student leaders about the functioning of the U.S. government and the importance of leadership in public service. The goal, subsequently, is for these student leaders to apply what they learn to address real world issues in their home countries. We are excited to be part of this important work, and look forward to introducing this bright group of young scholars and future leaders to the University, Northern Nevada and the region.

*Please contact Nilufer Leuthold at nleuthold@nnic.org or 775-784-7515 if you are interested in service as a host family for one or two students for the weekend of June 29-30, 2019.

Shawn Marsh