Student Leaders Program Pivots to Deliver Virtual Leadership Training
The Student Leaders Program (SLP) at Georgetown University normally would have just concluded an in-person Summer Leadership Institute for university student leaders from nine Middle East and North Africa countries. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, program plans were put on hold and the CIED team quickly designed a virtual program to strengthen leadership and community engagement for all 1,400+ Student Leader alumni from 19 countries reaching back to program inception in 2003.
The first activity, a set of four virtual Leadership Series webinars with SL program alumni was successfully delivered during the months of July and August of 2020. On August 13, 2020, Georgetown University Professor, Dr. Eric Langenbacher led the fourth and final Leadership Series webinar entitled Political Institutions and Pandemics: Why Have Some Countries Responded Better Than Others? Countries as disparate as South Korea, New Zealand, and Germany appear to have done a much better job of confronting the coronavirus pandemic compared to places like Italy, Brazil, or the United States. The session demonstrated the severity of the pandemic’s impact in different countries and then discussed explanations behind countries’ differing levels of success in combatting the pandemic. Regime type, federalism, or overall wealth were cited as not the most impact factors. Instead, successful efforts were shown to be due to good governance, state capacity, and leadership –particularly women’s leadership.
Student Leader alumni explored questions on How have different countries fared in their responses to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic? Do dictatorships do a better job than democracies? and, What accounts for higher state capacity and better governance? Alumni actively engaged with each other in breakout rooms and chat discussions on each of these important questions.
Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Teaching Professor and Director of the Honors Program in the Department of Government at Georgetown University and serves as the Academic Director for the Student Leaders Program.
The Student Leaders Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State MEPI NEA-AC office, emphasizes lessons in participatory governance and the application of leadership skills to effect positive social change in Student Leader home countries.