2021 Civic Leadership Institute

June 21, 2021 to June 25, 2021

Applications are closed.

The Civic Leadership Institute is a free, virtual, week-long program for high school students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Constitution and American political leaders through an on-campus experience at Arizona State University. 

This year, due to continued social distancing restrictions, the Center for Political Though and Leadership (CPTL) has made the decision to move the Civic Leadership Institute (CLI) to a virtual, week-long program via a video conferencing platform. There will be one onsite event that features our Civics Classics Collection at Hayden Library as well.

The CLI will include a guided curriculum that covers several themes throughout the week, a series of educational webinars led by our faculty, discussion groups facilitated by student mentors, and opportunities for students and parents to learn more about becoming a Sun Devil.

There is no fee for participants this year and students who complete the program will be given a certificate of completion at a later date.

Read more. 

Eligibility + Application Information

The Civic Leadership Institute is intended for mature high school students with an interest in American civics, government, history, and a strong academic potential to thrive in a challenging environment replicating a college experience. Eligible applicants will be rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, with a minimum of 2.75 GPA (Seniors graduating in May 2021 are ineligible to apply). Applicants will be selected on the basis of academic achievement, drawn from these materials, and including the following criteria:

  • Academic achievement evidenced by cumulative GPA.
  • Preparation and success in relevant coursework (e.g. American History or Government) - minimum grade of B in all high school history or government classes taken to date.
  • Statewide representation (geographic diversity) is also a consideration in student selection.

If the current situation prevents you from obtaining any required application materials or information, please provide a supplementary statement by email and your application will receive equal consideration. 

Anyone may register to watch the daily videocast, but to participate in the discussions you must complete an application and registration. Each discussion session will consist of 10 to 15 students and seating is limited. Students who successfully participate in discussion sessions will receive a Civic Leadership Certificate from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at ASU. After you are fully registered, you will be sent a daily email with tasks to complete and videos to watch, as well as our upcoming webinar schedule for students and parents. We will give priority consideration to those who have finished their applications early as well.


“This institute gives (the students) the opportunity to get a head start on having knowledge about their constitutional rights and liberties, as well as the fundamental principles that have defined American debates and aspirations.”

- Zack German, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

The Struggle over the Constitution

The 2021 Civic Leadership Institute will be held virtually over the course of five days, June 21-25. The theme of the 2021 CLI will be the Struggle over the Constitution and participants will engage with founding debates on various features of the Constitution, including federalism, representation, executive power, and judicial power. On June 24th, we will be holding an onsite event as well.

The five days will be guided by interconnected sub-themes that span from the Founding Era to today:

Monday: Federalism and the Constitution 

Tuesday: Representation and the Constitution 

Wednesday: Executive Power and the Constitution 

Thursday: Judicial Power and the Constitution 

Friday: Culminating Experience with Former Arizona Senator, Jon Kyl and Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Each day will include three curricular components: 

  1. A brief introductory lecture featuring the school’s faculty highlighting each day’s learning material.
    • Participants will be given a Zoom meeting link.
  2. Discussion and breakout conversations between students and faculty that are centered on the primary source readings.
  3. There will also be ASU-related activities for participants following the discussions.

“We need to make sure all of our students are educated about civics so we can make informed decisions on voting and things like that,”

-Sowmya V., a student at Desert Mountain High School.

Important Information

  • Statewide representation (geographic diversity) is also a consideration in student selection. 
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered. 
  • Decisions from the selection committee are final. 
  • The program is completely free this year.