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Courses & Cohort Programs

Cohort program group shot of students engaged in a project in the Campus Center
For students interested in growing their collaborative leadership skills at a deeper level, the Wurtele Center offers courses and cohort programs that bring together a small community of learners to develop into collaborative student leaders. These programs engage students in exploring their individual strengths, growth areas, and evolving sense of purpose (ME); help them build their capacity to work with others in a team and community (WE); and assist them as they seek to make positive change (IMPACT).

IDP 133: Critical Perspectives on Collaborative Leadership

Fall Semester 2022

Tuesday/Thursday, 9:25-10:40am

Traditional conceptions of leadership set up leading and working as a team as diametrically opposed; “leaders” are often understood as those who achieve greatness through their own powers of persuasion or individual achievement, while “teams” are often framed as leaderless efforts that move forward by virtue of dispersed contributions to a given project or initiative. This course challenges students to interrogate this perceived dichotomy by viewing theories and histories of leadership and collaboration through a critical lens and exploring alternative ways of imagining change-making as a collaborative leadership act. Through reading, writing, reflection and practice, the class will offer students new perspectives on how they might bring others into collaboration by intentionally creating a productive team culture and modeling processes that encourage others to step in and out of the lead. This course is especially useful as a foundation for those students whose future academic (or life!) work is likely to engage them in significant group work. It is a required course for the Collaborative Innovation concentration (CIX).

“Thank you SO much for this course. It truly has given me the confidence I needed to take the next steps after Smith. The practicality of all of the various skills I gained here—this probably was the MOST important course I took in my time here.”

LEAD Scholars and LEAD Corps


The Leaders for Equity-Centered and Action-Based Design (LEAD) Scholars Program is a one-year cohort program that focuses on building leadership capacity through both examining leadership through a social justice lens and learning skills of facilitation and design for social change. The Wurtele Center for Leadership and the Office for Equity and Inclusion have designed this program with the mission of equipping students with the skills to apply equity-centered design to address some of our greatest social inequities. A small cohort of students will explore who they are as leaders, how their social identities impact their leadership, how to develop deep and meaningful relationships with one another, and the processes of design and facilitation to serve as references and consultants to the greater campus community.

After year one, scholars have the opportunity to apply to be a member of the LEAD Corps. Selected corps members will engage with the community to offer themselves as solution and experience designers. They’ll learn and practice deeper facilitative leadership strategies, such as deep listening, radical collaboration, emergent strategy and liberatory design. As solution designers they will work to support community members in creating solutions to problems arising in such communities as clubs, organizations and teams. As experience designers they will create and offer facilitated conversations and workshops about social justice and lead programs in houses and communities around campus.

How To Get Involved

LEAD Scholars and LEAD Corps members are selected through an application process. Once LEAD Scholars are selected, they register for the two LEAD-affiliated courses: IDP 134: Examining Equity and Action based Design for Leaders (fall term) and IDP 135 (spring term). These courses are only open to students selected as LEAD Scholars and require permission of the instructors (Annie DelBusto Cohen and Toby Davis). IDP 134 meets on Wednesdays from 2:45-4:00 PM.

2023 Application and Selection Process Dates

Date Description
March 8, 2023 LEAD Scholar Info Session (12:15-1:00PM, CC 102)
March 10, 2023 Nominations DUE
March 20,  2023 Applications DUE
March 27, 2023 Offers extended
March 31, 2023 Confirmations Needed
April 20, 2023 New Cohort Welcome Event (3-4:30 PM)

Application Materials

Apply to be a LEAD Scholar for the 2023-2024 academic year:

For faculty and staff who would like to nominate a student who they feel would be an excellent fit for LEAD Scholars:

Recommendation forms should be submitted by faculty, staff or former supervisor:

Collaborative Leadership and Design Immersions (CLDI Fellows)


Collaborative Leadership and Design Immersions (CLDI) is an integrative cohort program sponsored in partnership by the Wurtele Center for Leadership (WCL) and the Design Thinking Initiative (DTI). CLDI is for students who are looking for intensive opportunities to put collaborative leadership skills into practice. The program offers students an opportunity to learn, develop, and apply human-centered design leadership in a real-world setting. CLDI connects students with embedded, fully paid summer internship experiences around the world where they will have a chance to practice collaborative change-making in the context of a local organization and help lead the advancement of socially, economically, and environmentally healthy communities. The program partners with host organizations in countries around the world and in the domestic US, and selects Fellows to work in those organizations in teams of 2-4. We support these teams through deep learning in human-centered design and collaborative leadership prior to their internship experience, and help them reflect on and share their experiences upon their return.

How To Get Involved

CLDI Fellows apply in the fall to participate in specific internship experiences with at least one other Smithie, and are matched with a sponsoring organization through the application process. Once accepted into the program, CLDI Fellows will meet as a cohort in late fall to connect with each other and learn about their sponsor organizations in order to begin preparing for the summer internship experience. In addition, students are required to take two, 1-credit courses, which are both taught during the spring semester and which will be scheduled back-to-back in order to create a single timeblock (9:25-12:05 on Thursday Mornings):

  • IDP 116: Introduction to Human-Centered Design (1 credit) 
  • IDP 132: Designing Your Path (section geared specifically towards CLDI Fellows) (1 credit)

These courses provide CLDI Fellows with foundational skills in human-centered design and collaborative leadership that will prepare them well for their internships. Students complete their internship over the summer, with periodic communication and support from WCL and DTI staff. Finally, during the fall semester following their internship, we assist CLDI Fellows to make sense of their experience and coach them to share their learning with the Smith community through developing a presentation for the Smith in the World Conference.

The CLDI Fellowship is fully-funded as follows: WCL and DTI will cover the cost of travel to and from the location of the host organization, as well as the cost of visas. CLDI Fellows receive a stipend that will cover the cost of housing, local transportation, and other living expenses.

Students are expected to be on Immersion for 10 - 12 weeks and to work no more than 40 hrs per week and no less than 220 hours over the course of the internship. There is an expectation that students are able to build in time to explore the region they are immersed in.

Who Is Eligible

Because the program spans across a summer, the application to become a CLDI Fellow is open to all current students except for graduating seniors. 

Applying for CLDI is a Two-Phased Process

Phase One: The application.

The application deadline has been extended to midnight on Sunday, October 2, 2022. The application will include the following items:

  • Filling out a general application form
  • Your résumé, which should include all relevant experiences, academic and beyond. Résumés should be emailed to Annie DelBusto Cohen at
  • Making a 2-4 minute video that speaks to and/or shows us:
    • What you are passionate about and why.
    • What kind of change you want to see in this world.
    • What excites you about the Collaborative Leadership and Design Immersions program.
    • What your goals for an immersion are.
    • What makes you a good candidate for the immersion of your choice.
    • What experience and learnings you have from working as part of a team.
    • What has best prepared you for living in a new city on your own.
Phase Two: Group Interview

Phase 1 finalists will be invited for a 90 minute long group exercise the afternoon of Thursday, October 13, 2022 from 4:30-6pm where staff will observe and evaluate how candidates navigate group dynamics. Small teams will be given a quick and dirty design thinking prompt to get them working through a problem together rapidly. It should actually be pretty fun!

Date Description

September 13, 2022
11:45-1:00 PM
Campus Center


September 14, 2022
4:15-5:15 PM
Capen Annex

Collaborative Leadership Design Immersion Info Session

September 21, 2022
11:45-1:00 PM
Campus Center
September 28, 2022 Application Deadline
October 2, 2022 Application  Deadline EXTENSION
October 3-4, 2022 Application Review

October 13 2022
4:30-6:00 PM
Location TBD

Group Interview for Candidates

October 25, 2022

Offers Extended

October 31, 2022

Decision Deadline

November 7 - 18, 2022

CLDI Fellows Register for IDP 116 and IDP 132

November 28, 2022
5:00-7:00 PM
Capen Annex

Cohort Gathering and Orientation #1

Before December Break Reasearch Any and All Passport and Visa needs
Over Interterm Begin Processing Passport and/or Visas
Spring Dates TBD

Summer 2023

Go on Immersion Internship Experience

Summer 2023

At least one virtual check-in

Opportunities for Summer ’22 listed in alphabetical order below:

ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF), Hong Kong

Want to join a team working out of Hong Kong to catalyze systems change in Asia aimed at protecting our environment for future generations? ADMCF contributes to climate action and biodiversity protection. There are a few key areas students might apply to work on: 

  1. Wildlife Trade: Hong Kong is a wildlife trafficking hub and ADMCF is working to address both the legal and illegal trade in threatened species across Asia. This requires data collection, facilitated dialogue, developing legislative reform, and extensive public engagement. 

  2. Marine Conservation: Our oceans are increasingly threatened by overexploitation, pollution, habitat degradation, and the changing climate. ADMCF engages local stakeholders in efforts to re-think sustainable fishing and generate awareness of deteriorating marine resources. It also works with the industry to facilitate responsible sourcing.

  3. Waste: Hong Kong produces massive volumes of single use food packaging and its landfills are reaching capacity. ADMCF has established an Eat Without Waste initiative that aims to undertake the research, engagement and policy reform necessary to address the problem.

ADMCF is looking for two bold and driven students eager to take on the challenge of living in Hong Kong and engaging in collaborative research, policy recommendations, community engagement, and education on issues. Cantonese language proficiency is not required but helpful. In your application please indicate which of the above project you're most interested in, why, and how you're uniquely qualified to work on it. 

CORCLIMA (the Commision towards Resilience to Climate Change in Monteverde)MonteVerde, Costa Rica

Passionate about combating Climate Change? CORCLIMA, a community-led effort in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, is committed to capturing more carbon than it emits and serving as a model of climate resilience. CORCLIMA has at least four potential projects for next summer:

  1. Create new designs and improve on existing designs of upcycled denim products to help economically sustain a women-run local barter center. 
  2.  Invent ways to experientially teach the concept of a circular economy at the bartering/upcycling center, the Community Garden and in local schools.
  3. Improve the water management system at the Cerro Plano Community Garden, for both excessively dry and excessively wet seasons. 
  4. Work with a team that is prototyping different collective transportation systems with the goal of providing accessible, safe and sustainable mobility for locals and visitors alike in the Monteverde region.

In your application please indicate which of these two projects you’d be interested in, why, and how you’re uniquely qualified for it. Seeking 4 fiercely independent workers and Spanish proficient extroverts who aren’t afraid to tromp respectfully through very damp forests, work closely with community members, and show the exponential impact of collective action.

Inspiring Women Pakistan Lahore, Pakistan

Are you driven to empower women? Are you eager to help increase access to opportunities for women? Has exploring Pakistan always been on your bucket list? If yes, this internship will be perfect for you! At Inspiring Women Pakistan you will connect with women from different backgrounds and across a range of professions. We are looking for great storytellers who will capture, celebrate, and share the stories of empowered women working in Pakistan. You can expect to spend your time creating storyboards, conducting interviews, and editing film footage. It’s our hope that these stories, which are often lost, are brought into the light and can serve as role models for young aspiring women in Pakistan. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to work with  Pakistani college students and help to improve and conduct leadership training and skill-building workshops. These programs enable young girls to overcome the many obstacles they face that hinder their growth and potential, as well as allow them to be economically empowered members of society.

Inspiring Women Pakistan is looking for two creative and energetic students who are interested in increasing the visibility of underrepresented women and inspiring young women to reach their potential while simultaneously learning about the diversity of our culture. Please note that interns will be required to be in Lahore for the entirety of the summer (10-12 weeks).

ModRoof, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Are you looking for a challenging position where you can channel your engineering energy and contribute to society and learn a lot in the process?! Modroof is a social venture start-up working hard to improve people’s lives through a high-quality, sustainable, and efficient roofing solution. Join this team as it develops and tests its products and engineers solutions for site-specific installations. This position might include ideation, rapid prototyping, material experimentation, testing products, and lots of mechanical design and fabrication.

ModRoof is seeking two students with mechanical engineering experience who are flexible, comfortable in a rapidly changing environment, open-minded, and able to entertain wild ideas. Experience with Google SketchUp and Fusion 360 is preferred and students need to feel comfortable around and using power tools and hand tools. Hindi language is not required but some level of Hindi (or Gujarati) will make the experience a bit easier.

Think Rubix, Little Rock / Washington, DC

Are you looking to work with a Black-led consultancy that works to shape equitable futures through our rigor, resources, and relationships? Think Rubix is a culture-first public affairs firm. We practice social innovation. We drive change. We work for good. We bring together expertise in equity innovation, public engagement and storytelling to help you do your best work. Though our work uses multiple studios, we use three studios to describe our skillsets.

STORYTELLING: We call it storytelling because how we tell stories is intimately connected to the change we build.  It's more important than ever to tell the right story to the right audience. This studio builds brands worth believing in and designs campaigns, experiences, and content to bend the arc of innovation towards equity. Our creative team of brand strategists and designers combine the power of creativity with the rigor of political strategy to help brands lead meaningful change.

ENGAGEMENT: We call it engagement because public affairs should be a communal good, not an elite one. The heart of our work is centering you and your relationships. We bring that value to the table alongside traditional public affairs to establish effective organizational policies, build and maintain a strong reputation for our clients, and find common ground with stakeholders.

EQUITY INNOVATION: We call it equity innovation because everyone should be empowered to build our collective future. We build the foundations for a world with justice at its roots. Traditional innovation practices follow the logic of exclusion. Our systems designers, applied researchers, and interdisciplinary equity experts rigorously shape knowledge, guide communities, and facilitate innovation toward a future of justice and liberation.

 Think Rubix is looking for two community-centered, visionary students looking to leave the world better than how they found it, through political, for-profit, and foundation-centered consultancy that advocates for the people most proximate to the problems. In your application, please discuss what culture means to you, and how you practice culture in your work.

Yenne Kids’ Academy Yenne, Sénégal

Are you a motivated environmental and climate change activist who loves working with kids? Are you driven to make change in this world? Are you pursuing environmental studies or child education? Have you always longed to explore West Africa?  If so, a summer working with Yenne Kids’ Academy might be right for you. This is an opportunity to work with young students in Sénégal on  green projects with the local coastal community of Yenne, Sénégal; while being trained to appreciate the challenges of effecting change on the development-environment-climate adaptation nexus in a real world developing country context. Projects might include designing and building recycling systems for the local community or constructing and launching a boat!

Yenne Kids’ Academy  is looking for two students who are prepared to be in Yenne for the entirety of the summer and have experience and/or a passion for working with kids (K-grade 5) along with interest in poverty alleviation, adaptation to rising climate risks – including sea level rise and saltwater intrusion, and nature conservancy. French  language proficiency is not required but would be an asset.