Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Global Youth Leadership Institute: A Platform to Nurture Leadership in University Students

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Global Youth Leadership Institute: A Platform to Nurture Leadership in University Students

Article excerpt


In a world of rapid social change, leadership is critically important. Among these global challenges, issues such as poverty, disaster or climate change are of growing concern. Thus, how to develop global leaders with competence, multicultural perspective and humanitarian as well as ethical concern is not only getting more attention, but also deserving practitioners' endeavor and serious scholarly pursuit (1-4). In the higher education sector, leadership training for the university students is particularly relevant as young people are in a critical period of life stage to develop their identity while they transit into adulthood. Furthermore, as a response to globalization, university nowadays also become internationalized, such as setting up branch campuses and providing exchange programs or extracurricular programs with international and intercultural dimensions (5), which create more opportunities for developing leadership in young people. At the same time, there is a call for "self-leadership" in university students who can organize and plan their life (6). With the transformation of the economy from manufacturing industries to service industries, nurturing university students to be service leaders is another direction of leadership training in university contexts (7-8).

In the context of Hong Kong, with the advent of the higher educational reform in 2012, many universities in Hong Kong also redefine their desired graduate attributes and intended learning outcomes. As a result, more emphasis has been put on whole person development of university students so as to prepare the young people well to the marketplace and future challenge (9-10). It is under this context coordinated effort to promote leadership training for university students emerge. The aim of this paper is to introduce an initiative in Hong Kong that tries to respond to the emerging need of leadership training in higher education by setting up the Global Youth Leadership Institute. The background, rationales, structure, vision and the way forward of the initiative are discussed in this paper.

Leadership training initiatives at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Since 2010, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has made use of the opportunities created by the introduction of the 4-year undergraduate curriculum to introduce new subjects for nurturing the all-round development of PolyU students. As PolyU is committed to nurturing students to become "critical thinkers, effective communicators, innovative problem solvers, lifelong learners and ethical leaders" of the society, one of the new mandatory requirements introduced in the new four-year curriculum is that PolyU students are required to take a 3-credit subject on Leadership and Intrapersonal Development that aims to prepare them to become future leaders of the society capable of making a positive impact on the world. A subject entitled "Tomorrow's Leaders" has been developed and offered to more than 2,000 students each year (9, 11-17).

Other credit-bearing leadership subjects and nonsubject bearing leadership programs are based on the Service Leadership Initiative financially supported by the Victor and William Fund Foundation. Drawing upon the seminal work of Po Chung (18), the basic thesis of the Service Leadership education initiative is that in an economy focusing primarily on service, there is a strong need for Hong Kong to devote more attention to train service leaders who possess generic leadership qualities, moral character, and caring disposition. Under this initiative, a series of creditbearing subjects (including Service Leadership, Service leadership through serving Children and Families with Special Needs) have been developed, and several non-credit-bearing service leadership programmes have been implemented (19-23).

Furthermore, PolyU has partnered with Peking University since 2013 to pioneer a two-year Global Youth Leadership Programme (GYLP), which is a comprehensive and pioneering leadership development programme involving students from both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland to engage in study and service programmes in Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas, with the aim to nurture future leaders with commitment to making a positive impact on the world. …

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