New summer program includes undergraduates in McDonnell Academy

Undergraduates can now be a part of the global conversation taking place in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, previously the sole domain of graduate students.

The McDonnell Academy’s goal is to develop future global leaders by recruiting graduates of Washington University in St. Louis’ 28 partner institutions around the world to doctoral or professional degree programs at WUSTL.

Now there is a special McDonnell Academy program for undergraduates. The McDonnell Academy International Leadership Institute (MAILI) is a five-week, summer academic experience for undergraduates from Washington University and the academy’s international partner institutions. The pilot program was launched during summer 2013.

“This program offers a unique opportunity for WUSTL students to participate in an international experience here at home,” said Becki Zurovec, assistant director for Summer Institutes and Special Programs. “These students are living and socializing together outside of the classroom. They are building relationships and making lasting friendships. Our hope with this program is to create a network of global leaders.”

In addition to taking six units of undergraduate course work, students attend guest lectures, participate in team-building activities and St. Louis community projects, and acquire an international-student perspective from current McDonnell Academy scholars and other international students.

Erin Amato, a WUSTL junior in Arts & Sciences and MAILI 2013 participant, said she enjoyed the classes she took and the small class size. However, she said the most rewarding aspect of the program was living and taking classes with international students.

“I enjoyed introducing them to St. Louis and hearing about their academics and social activities. We shared our insights on different aspects of American culture, as well,” Amato said. “I would definitely say that my learning experiences in the MAILI program were just as valuable outside of the classroom as in my academic classes.”

The goal of the MAILI program is to teach leadership skills to undergraduates using a research-oriented curriculum.

“The program has a curriculum that deals with the pressing issues of the day — public health, aging, energy and the environment,” said Henry Biggs, PhD, JD, associate director of the McDonnell Academy. “The leaders of tomorrow cannot avoid these issues. In fact, it is more important than ever that they have a strong command of these issues.”

The graduate students in the McDonnell Academy help with the program.

“It made sense to leverage these students and their leadership skills so they can more actively pass along those skills to the next generation,” Biggs said. “The MAILI program is ultimately quite unique nationally: it uses leading graduate scholars from a variety of disciplines and a variety of countries to teach a more fully globally oriented leadership framework to undergraduates.”

Next summer, the program would like to enroll 50 WUSTL undergraduates and 50 students from partner universities. MAILI is open to all WUSTL undergraduates in good academic standing. The deadline for WUSTL applicants is May 1. More information is available here.

“Last year we had a great start, and we are looking forward to expanding the program to more McDonnell Academy partner schools and to increase WUSTL student participation,” Zurovec said.