Program Goals and Themes

As SUSI participants you will explore the program themes of leadership, civic engagement, and social change, and develop self-confidence, independence, inquiry, and connection to a larger vision of mutual understanding between citizens of the U.S. and diverse people and communities around the world. Each activity will promote active participation; inspire curiosity and dialogue between participants, local citizens, and organizations in our community; and explore leadership and service from a variety of perspectives.

Program Goals

The goals of the program are for participants to:

- Take part in challenging daily activities that encourage and support each individual’s leadership development and reinforce concepts of civic engagement, service and citizenship.

- Gain a comprehensive understanding of how individual citizens can influence community change through grassroots, organizational, and political means.

- Develop friendships and share experiences with other youth leaders from Southern Africa, the U.S., and other countries.

- Build skills to develop and implement small-scale community development projects, including project planning, fundraising, marketing and outreach, volunteer coordination, and evaluation.

Program Themes

The SUSI Program will be delivered in two distinct tracks. Each theme will include both academic and experiential learning.

Track 1: Leadership, Diversity and Service

Leadership. FIUTS will incorporate curriculum and utilize materials from The Student Leadership Challenge, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. This track will ask participants to examine ideas about leadership and their experiences as leaders and followers. Participants will consider the impact that leadership has on organizations and communities, explore their personal values, develop a personal vision, empower others, and recognize individual and group accomplishments.

Diversity. Seattle is an incredibly diverse city, with a network of social institutions and organizations that support and engage in grassroots social change in many ways. SUSI participants will have an opportunity to explore diversity on many levels - age, race, culture, physical ability, religion, and socio-economic class.

Service. SUSI participants will take part in several opportunities to serve the local community and see organizations working to improve their communities on many levels. Service projects will include serving a meal in a youth shelter and packaging baby supplies for low-income families.

    Track 2: Civic Engagement and Social Change

    This track, divided into three units, will encourage students to think about their future roles as leaders in relationship to a variety of models of civic engagement in the United States and a variety of pressing social issues.  Aspiring to push students to think broadly about ways they may impact their own communities, we will frame civic engagement as an endeavor with multiple, meaningful approaches.

    Introduction to Civic Engagement, Civil Rights, and Grass-Roots Student Activism. The academic course will begin by introducing the different models of civic engagement our class will investigate during the program. After this introduction we will explore the way grass-roots student movements transformed university culture in the United States in and after the civil rights movement, pushing universities toward more democratic, multicultural inclusion. Using the University of Washington itself as a case-study, the unit will address how current student movements are connected to the past but use new models of digital activism and social-media to shape conversations about contemporary democracy, diversity and inclusion in the American university system. In addition to weekly reading, assignments will include an autoethnography, several short summary and responses, and a critical reflective essay asking students to reflect on the topic of leadership, inclusion and higher education in their home country.

    Civic Engagement in the Community: Volunteerism and Direct Action. This unit explores volunteerism and direct activism beyond campus and at the city level. The unit broadens the conversation of civil rights to address questions of equality, specifically as it relates to homelessness and poverty in Seattle. Students will be introduced to a variety of organizations that approach this issue from different perspectives, including direct action organizations that feed the homeless, and Real Change, a local newspaper committed to empowering Seattle’s homeless population. In addition to weekly reading, assignments will include reflective writing that locates our site visits in relationship to course conversations about equity and social rights.


    Civic Engagement at the State and National Level: Political Leadership, Citizen Advocacy, and Minority Political Engagement. The final unit will explore civic engagement in relationship to political leadership both at the state and national level. Students will develop a working understanding of the American electoral process, the relationship between the state and federal government, and have the opportunity to visit the state capital to meet and dialogue with legislative interns. This unit will also connect students with several community organizations designed to provide a stronger voice for politically underrepresented communities.  In addition to weekly reading, students will work on a community mapping project and a final essay that frames one community organization and/or leader in terms of our course conversations and in relationship to the students’ final “in-country” leadership project.