Preparing Future Leaders

The Student Leadership Program is a development framework born out of collaborative brainstorming between faculty and staff.

A pilot program to prepare NYU Abu Dhabi students to adapt to a complex and ever-shifting world was recently launched. The Student Leadership Program will provide students with leadership training modules that will further solidify the pillars of an NYUAD education in preparation for a professional environment.

The purpose of this program is to provide evidence-based techniques and leadership theories to support the growth and development of NYUAD students. The program was designed to be flexible and agile, so as to prepare students to interact with different leadership approaches beyond their college journey.

"The students will examine literature and multimedia materials to learn about leadership concepts then engage in a critical dialogue on how these concepts relate to their own experience. Furthermore, students get to interact with leading practitioners through our guest speaker sessions," said Associate Director of Student Leadership Mowafiq Alanazi.


Associate Director of Student Leadership Mowafiq Alanazi

Five Clusters of Learning

The student leadership program includes five clusters of learning: Meaning making, trust building, system thinking, impact igniting, and community integrating. It took months for Alanazi and a working group to put together the framework and clusters.

“The framework was a result of a rigorous and intentional examination of the current state of leadership development opportunities at NYUAD through various data collection instruments such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews with senior leaders,” Alanazi said. 

The team identified 14 competencies as the most desired to be developed among students. These competencies were then divided up into five clusters and each cluster was segmented into three levels: awareness, practice, and mastery. 

The onset of the program will see students complete online modules, while interacting with subject matter experts. As they move on to the practice level, students will be matched with opportunities on and off campus to get hands-on application for the competencies addressed in each cluster. At the last level - mastery level, students will work on a real-life legacy project. Under the mentorship of staff or faculty members, this final phase will utilize their learning and allow them to demonstrate mastery of competencies of each cluster by making an impact on an organization or community of their choosing.

Henriette Mueller, Visiting Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies, who was heavily involved in the development of the curriculum of the meaning making cluster, said that while many other leadership programs for students focus on the corporate and business realm, they wanted to create a syllabus that represents the elements of the NYUAD education: a strong  interdisciplinary approach with a heavy emphasis on global education.


Many leadership programs cover topics such as gender or culture in the context of leadership only tangentially or as electives. We took our campus and diverse NYUAD community as a starting point to decenter and develop a curriculum that would raise awareness and expose students to the variety and complexity of leadership in both theory and practice across the various domains of society, cultural regions, and contexts across the world.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies, Henriette Mueller

There are plans to get this robust syllabus accredited in the coming semesters, Alanazi added.   

What’s more, flexibility in this student leadership program also means students from any discipline can easily embark on their own journey to develop leadership skills in any cluster so as to align with their own academic goals and interests.