Preparing future leaders for a more sustainable society

Journée d'accueil des nouveaux étudiants-e·s 2022.  2022 EPFL/Alain Herzog - CC-BY-SA 4.0

Journée d'accueil des nouveaux étudiants-e·s 2022. 2022 EPFL/Alain Herzog - CC-BY-SA 4.0

EPFL has joined the Laidlaw Foundation to offer its first-year Bachelor’s students a new program designed to develop a new generation of leaders working for a sustainable future.

Tomorrow’s business leaders need to be equipped to handle the societal challenges they will one day face. With this in mind, EPFL has partnered with the Laidlaw Foundation to propose a one-of-a-kind program for the School's first-year Bachelor’s students: the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program. This makes EPFL the first university in Switzerland to offer this opportunity. “The program will give students a chance to develop holistically – to become changemakers driven by a desire to challenge the status quo in science, engineering and beyond.” says Prof. Kathryn Hess Bellwald, EPFL’s Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Outreach. “Students who join the program will have the opportunity to clarify what they stand for and how to live by their values. They will also learn how to make decisions guided by ethics, integrity and compassion.”

Hands-on experience abroad

The program, which runs for 20 months, supports 25 scholars each year. It includes two summer internships: for their first placement, scholars will spend two months working in an EPFL laboratory to discover and gain research experience. For their second six-week project, they will work with a community in need in an international context, applying their newly acquired leadership attributes to solving real-world challenges.

As an essential component of the program, leadership development will be taught along the curriculum. All scholars will learn core leadership values, develop self-awareness and practice their communication skills. In addition, they will also be part of an extensive network of researchers and like-minded people coming from prestigious universities around the world, including Cornell, Columbia College and the University of Toronto.

“We need better leaders in the world. We need people who are curious, who are committed to acting with integrity and who are ready and eager to solve the world’s most intractable problems. In expanding our Laidlaw Scholars program from the top universities in the UK and the USA to the leading institutions in continental Europe, EPFL was the obvious first choice. We are both honored and thrilled to launch the scholarships at EPFL,” says Susanna Kempe, CEO, Laidlaw Foundation.

Making a difference while gaining transferable skills

The Laidlaw Scholars Program complements other EPFL initiatives designed to equip students with transferable skills. “The overwhelming consensus among employers, graduates and alumni is that having a broad set of transferable skills helps ease the transition from university to the workforce and prepares students to become the leaders of tomorrow,” adds Kathryn Hess Bellwald.

More information here (applications open on 1 December 2022).

Promising Start for the First Laidlaw Scholars' Cohort

On May 11th 2023, the official launch of the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program at EPFL unveiled seventeen profiles with a wide range of personalities, backgrounds and experience. After a rigorous selection process, these students were awarded with a Laidlaw scholarship that will support them to acquire competences to become changemakers for a more sustainable society.

Read more here.

Author: Laureline Duvillard

Source: EPFL