The SFU Passport to Leadership program equips students with the skills to become changemakers

Simon Fraser University’s Get Involved website is a one-stop shop for students to find experiential learning opportunities that enable them to develop practical skills and become changemakers in their communities. It’s a platform that the university community uses to promote paid and unpaid opportunities for students to get involved on campus. In addition to the skills and experience students obtain through these opportunities, many also provide students with recognition on their Co-Curricular Record (CCR).

One of the programs promoted on the Get Involved website is Passport to Leadership (P2L). P2L started in 2007 and has continued to grow ever since with 964 students successfully completing the program between Fall 2013 and Summer 2017. “Through P2L, students participate in a series of interactive workshops that are based on a facilitated cohort model and have a focus on the development of foundational leadership skills,” notes Kim Thee, student development educator with SFU’s Student Engagement and Retention, Student Success. “To start, these workshops address ideas of what leadership means and how students can explore their own leadership development while working with others.”

P2L emphasizes that in order for students to practice effective leadership and be changemakers they need to listen to others, acknowledge that multiple perspectives exist, and approach complex situations with a more collaborative and open-minded approach. Students who participate in the program are encouraged to adopt the mindset that self-awareness is a foundational leadership skill and that there isn’t only one “right” way of doing things. Thee, speaks to how quintessential acknowledging multiple perspectives is to changemaking— students need to be careful not to impose their own perspective and beliefs onto others when working in the community. By becoming comfortable with uncertainty, developing strong communication skills, and building self-awareness—including an awareness of one’s personal assumptions and judgements about others and the strengths they have to offer—students are better equipped with the tools to practice effective leadership and engage in the process of social change.

There are learning objectives embedded within P2L that the program aims to achieve through a blended learning model which encourages students to reflect further on what they are learning in the face-to-face sessions through facilitated online discussions and reflection questions. These objectives are centered on the practice of leadership, articulating one’s personal values and beliefs, and identifying the perspectives that are influencing one’s own values and beliefs.

Some of P2L’s key learning objectives include:

•    Articulating an understanding of leadership, cultivating self-awareness in relation to others and identifying personal values;
•    Recognizing the importance of their individual role in creating a respectful, inclusive and supportive culture;
•    Challenging their assumptions about others and applying a conflict resolution model to their daily interactions; and
•    Understanding the complexity of human identity and their own positionality through an intersectional lens, while identifying personal strengths, knowledge and skills that they can offer to their communities.

“The goal is to develop self-aware, socially conscious, responsible leaders who are mindful of the impact of their behavior and choices on themselves and others,” says Thee. “The program helps build participants’ capacity to create inclusive communities, cultivate meaningful relationships and become agents of positive social change” — ultimately giving way to the next generation of changemakers. 

For more information about Passport to Leadership, please visit the Get Involved website.

Read more about SFU students’ first-hand experiences with participating in P2L.