What is “Youth Leadership?”

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
INOGO Newsletter, No. XIV

If asked to picture a “leader”, who do you imagine? Perhaps you see people who have influenced the world by their courageous actions – someone like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King or even someone like Jose Maria Figueres Olsen. Maybe you think of Presidents, of the priest at your church, or the head of the local Development Association. What is one thing that all of these people have in common? They would probably all tell you that they are actively working to make the world a better place.

I’m guessing that most - if not all - of the leaders who you imagined were adults. Can youth be leaders?  They might not run the country, the town, or the church, but we believe that youth have a lot of power in shaping the future.

In SELAL, we have chosen to focus specifically on developing “environmental leadership”. We hope that, as participants in SELAL, students will gain greater awareness of the environmental challenges that their community faces, and how those challenges will impact the community’s future. We hope that students will gain the tools to recognize environmental issues in their community, and that they will know which institutions and organizations they can go to in order to work to solve the problem.   With all of this knowledge, we hope that the students will also have the self-confidence and resilience to act when they see that change is needed.

What do you think youth leadership looks like? If you have ideas on developing youth leadership and would like to discuss them with INOGO, please email Emily Arnold at ebarnold@stanford.edu.