Student Program

Certificate in Engaged Leadership

Lead with a public purpose. Pursuing the Certificate in Engaged Leadership will challenge you to bring about the world you wish to see — now and throughout your life.

You’ll build on your interests and experiences (from courses to extracurricular activities) and develop the skills you need to be an engaged leader — recognizing what the world needs from you and bringing about change through collaboration and respect.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Build professional, academic and civic skills
  • Chart a course for lifelong leadership development
  • Address complex issues of public concern — such as poverty, climate change, educational inequity  — with effectiveness, humility and empathy
  • Make the most of mentorship opportunities
  • Collaborate with community partners effectively and ethically
  • Strengthen your speaking and writing skills
  • Engage in meaningful reflection and deliberate dialogue

Structure and Time Commitment

The certificate is flexible and allows you to move through the stages at your own pace, applying community engagement and leadership activities from across campus.

Achieving the full certificate takes approximately two years.

Stage 1: Involved

Get to know your community through service activities, course projects or sustained engagement with a student organization. If you’re already involved in a community, you can apply your current activities in this stage. If not, Engaged Ambassadors who have earned the full certificate can support you in finding courses, organizations and activities that fit your interests.

  • In this stage, you’ll reflect on:
    • What is special about this place?
    • How do my social identities shape my view of the world and influence choices I make?
  • This stage includes:
    • 40 hours total of community engagement (research, organizing, volunteerism, service, philanthropy, etc.)
    • 6 hours of leadership education (either through 90-minute, peer-led workshops or relevant classes, conferences or community events)
    • 2 written reflections
    • 2 meetings with a peer mentor
    • Opportunity to apply for $250 to support a group project (apply for funding)

Stage 2: Committed

Commit to one community-based project or social issue, while participating in multiple leadership education workshops or a course.

  • In this stage, you’ll reflect on:
    • How do I build collaborative relationships here?
    • Who has made a commitment to this community?
    • What tools are available to me to amplify what is working?
    • What risks and sacrifices can I take and make in this context?
  • This stage includes:
    • 80 hours of community engagement with one project or organization
    • 12 hours of leadership education selected by you, based on your engaged learning map
    • 4 written reflections
    • 4 meetings with a mentor you identify: community partner, alumnus, faculty or staff
    • Opportunity to apply for $1,000 for your committed engagement project (apply for funding)

Stage 3: Capstone

Develop a model of change, identify your mentorship family and create a post-Cornell community engagement plan.

  • In this stage, you’ll reflect on:
    • How can I support others be their best?
    • Who determines when I have done a good deed?
    • What is meaningful work?
    • What is the community as I see it, the community as I want to see it and my role to fill the gap?
  • This stage includes:
    • 32 hours of reading, writing and dialogue over 7 weeks, facilitated by students
    • Opportunity to apply for a stipend up to $300
    • Opportunity to apply for up to $500 for conference coordination or travel (apply for funding)

Beyond the Capstone

Students who achieve the full certificate are invited to apply to serve as Engaged Ambassadors. A team of 12 ambassadors coordinate every aspect of the certificate and earn a work-study wage for their 8-10 hour weekly commitment.


Undergraduate students from any school or college.

Students typically begin pursuit of the certificate during their sophomore or junior year, but you can begin as early as your freshman year. Achieving the full certificate takes approximately two years.


Funding is available throughout all three stages of the certificate for students who are committed to community engagement. For more information, see what’s included in each stage.

Funding applications are currently open for:

Getting Started

To start the certificate, attend an hour-long orientation event. Dinner provided. When you leave, you will be pursuing the certificate. Register here.

  • Thursday, February 1, 2018
    5–6 p.m., 104 Rockefeller Hall
  • Monday, February 12, 2018
    5–6 p.m., 110 Rockefeller Hall
  • Thursday, March 15, 2018
    5–6 p.m., 102 Mann Library
  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018
    5–6 p.m., Tatkon Center, Room 3330
  • Wednesday, April 18, 2018
    5–6 p.m., 102 Mann Library

For Current Participants


Drop in during Engaged Ambassador office hours in the Engaged Cornell Hub, 3rd floor, Kennedy Hall, or email

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Tenzin 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Emma 10 a.m.-noon
Imani 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Conor 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Hannah 11:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
Chenab 12:15-2:15 p.m.
JJ 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

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