Our 2018 Summer Ethics and Leadership Institute has arrived in London, and our 21 students are already proving themselves a capable, deep-thinking, and fun-loving group.
The five-week Institute focuses intensively on our core Ethics and Leadership program, mixing the best of SEGL’s curriculum with new case studies specific to our unique setting in London. (This summer also gives our students the opportunity to be pioneers: the School is exploring a permanent site in London.)
After a transatlantic flight and an Underground (also known as “The Tube”) ride to our new home, we bonded over some first-day ice-breaking activities, a grilled chicken dinner with all the trimmings, and our opening orientation and first dorm meetings. Then it was time to settle in for our first night. (This summer we’re staying in side-by-side townhouses in the bustling Maida Vale neighborhood, in the city of Westminster, London.)
The next day, after a delicious brunch provided by SEGL’s beloved chef, Susana Heureaux, and a trek to Buckingham Palace (to pay our respects to the Queen!), we returned home to confront some of SEGL’s classic low ropes course-style activities: the Minefield, the Dream Reach, Trainwreck, and an all-group Human Knot. In addition to accelerating a positive group dynamic, these activities are designed to help each student reflect on her/his leadership and collaboration skills, to provide a base line from which to grow.
Prior to the session, we discussed the four keys to success at the Summer Institute: (These all deserve more explanation but we will let you speak with a current student to hear more!)
- Being smart doesn’t make you smart. Practice makes you smart.
- The best learning happens in an atmosphere of shared vulnerability. If you are afraid of sounding dumb, you won’t learn.
- Narrow your gap.
- It is no use trying to be clever. We are all clever here. Just try to be kind a little kind.
After a trip to the drug store for missing essentials and pizza from a local Italian restaurant, we started our first academic session. Like many things in our first few days together, our first academic session is an SEGL tradition. Together we watched live CNN coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks–a difficult thing even for these students, many of whom were only days or months old when they happened–and then we reflected on the aftermath and meaning of those attacks. What does it mean to be an American in the world? In 2001? In 2018?
The conversation that followed was insightful, collaborative, and inspiring: this is a promising group of young people who are poised to carry the SEGL banner forward to a new continent!
In the days after, we have been chasing after Skittles, arguing over two provocative articles by the philosophers Garrett Hardin and Peter Singer, introducing to our first two case studies–the British Empire and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–touring the British Museum (and dealt with the contentious issue of repatriating cultural artifacts) and meeting with our first guest speakers. More on that later this week!