SESP Leadership Institute

SESP Leadership Institute

The School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) Leadership Institute is a summer academic program focused on supporting incoming students to draw on their histories and perspectives to shape their respective fields and thrive at Northwestern and beyond. Students who are the first in their family to attend college are especially encouraged to join.

The institute introduces cutting-edge research on education, learning sciences, human development, and social policy, and provides students with the opportunity to engage deeply with questions of identity, inequality, and society.

Students in the program will take one SESP core requirement class (Culture and Cognition), engage in a variety of leadership and team-building activities, and connect with professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The institute also provides opportunities to learn about how to get involved in a range of organizations and activities at Northwestern.

SESP Leadership Institute FAQ

Am I eligible to participate in SLI?

SLI is open to all rising first-year, second-year, and transfer students in SESP. Students who are the first in their family to attend college are especially encouraged to join.

How much does SLI cost?

SLI is 100% free. All program costs (transportation to campus, meals, housing, basic school supplies, and activities) are covered by SESP.

When is SLI?

SLI will take place for 2-weeks before Wildcat Welcome. The dates are Wednesday, August 28th - Sunday, September 15th, 2019.

How many other students will be in SLI?

Around 20 rising first and second year students will participate in SLI.

Where will I live during SLI? What will I eat during SLI?

SLI students, along with their 4 counselors (upperclass students in SESP) will live in a residential hall during the duration of the program. SLI students will move into their permanent residential halls during the end of SLI and will be assisted by SESP staff.

What will the academic portion of SLI look like?

SLI students will take one SESP core requirement (and get course credit) - Culture and Cognition (please see a previous syllabus of the course found here) every weekday morning and will engage in a variety of leadership and community-building activities in the afternoon. SLI students will be expected to spend weekday evenings doing various forms of critical reading and writing for the course.

What other activities will I participate in during SLI?

The SLI program team will organize various events throughout the duration of the program that allows for students to build friendships and explore their new community together. Previous activities have ranged from spending time with friends in the dorms, grabbing dinner at a local restaurant. In addition, to social and cultural activities- on campus and within the City of Chicago.

What will I get out of SLI?

Not only do SLI students get 1 academic credit for their 2-week participation in the program, they also build lifetime connections with each other, their counselors, and SESP faculty and staff. They will also become aware of various resources at Northwestern.

I’m interested in applying! What do I do now?

All eligible students will receive an email with an interest form. Expressing your SLI interest is as easy as filling out the interest form (that should take you no longer than 10 minutes).

If you believe you are eligible for SLI and did not receive an email OR are currently in another Northwestern school and are interested in applying, you may still fill out the interest form.


Please email Shelena Johnson at

Led by SESP Instructors

Contact Us

Student Affairs Office

School of Education and Social Policy

Walter Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive, Suite 123
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-3790