2024 Study of the United States Institute on Civic Engagement for Student Leaders

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is pleased to announce a competition for the 2024 Study of the United States Institute on Civic Engagement for Student Leaders. This program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and will cover all participant costs.

Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders from Europe is an intensive short term academic program whose purpose is to provide groups of undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills. The Institute consists of a five-week academic residency with a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures. Site visits, leadership development, cultural activities, and community service complement the coursework and academic sessions.  If conditions allow, the Institutes will include a one-week integrated study tour in the United States.

The program will tentatively take place from June 25 to July 31, 2024. Should health, safety, and travel conditions continue to pose significant challenges; the program will pivot to a modified virtual format.

Applications should be submitted to the Public Diplomacy Section’s email KyivSUSI@state.gov by December 12, 2023.

The Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement, hosted by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, will provide participants with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The academic program will define civic engagement; examine its development in the United States; and explore topics such as citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism.  To enhance the academic experience, the Institute will focus on specific themes such as civil rights and protections; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA); citizen journalism, social movements, education, governance, minority communities, leadership, and media.  Academic sessions will be complemented with hands-on sessions or workshops designed to build skills in the topics mentioned above.  The Institute will encourage participants to develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities.  Program components may include a tour of the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, meeting with representatives of the Michigan State University Law Clinic, and volunteering with the Refugee Development Center.

Candidate Description and Qualifications:

The candidates are expected to be highly motivated first through third year undergraduate students from colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. Their fields of study will be varied and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields. The ideal candidates should be from non-elite backgrounds, with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside their home country, and should include historically underserved groups, indigenous groups, disadvantaged groups, individuals with disabilities, and ethnic minority communities. ECA reserves the right to disqualify nominees who do not meet the above diversity requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates nominated for this program will:

  • be a citizen of Ukraine currently residing and studying in Ukraine as a full time University student at the undergraduate level (first, second, or third year of study);
  • be proficient in English;
  • be interested in the Institute topic;
  • be between 18 and 25 years of age;
  • have at least one semester left of their undergraduate studies, and therefore be committed to return to their home universities following completion of the program;
  • demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university and community activities;
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
  • have a sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
  • demonstrate commitment to community and extracurricular university activities;
  • have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of their home country;
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive;
  • be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and educational travel;
  • be willing to respectfully engage with fellow participants representing different backgrounds and different points of view;
  • if the program is conducted in-person, be comfortable with campus life, prepared to share living accommodations, and able to make adjustments to cultural and social practices different from those of their home country; and,
  • if the program is conducted virtually, the participants will need to have access to the internet and program will help facilitate such access if needed.

Financial Support:

This program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and will cover all participant costs, including: program administration; travel to/from the U.S., domestic travel and ground transportation; visa travel; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence. If the program is conducted virtually, ECA will work with Meridian to provide a technology stipend to participants.

Housing and Meal Arrangements: Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities.  Male and female participants will be housed in separate quarters.  In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own.  It is important that candidates are comfortable with such accommodations.  All participants will be expected to respectfully share communal spaces and any necessary responsibilities.

Program Requirements and Restrictions:

Participants are expected to fully participate in the academic program. They should attend all lectures and organized activities, and complete assigned readings. Candidates should be made aware that the Institute is very intensive and that there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program. Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants should not expect to fulfill professional or academic obligations, including remote work for jobs or internships, classwork, or examinations for their home university, while in the United States.  Doing so will count as an unexcused absence from program activities.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.

Candidates cannot be an employee or immediate family member of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity) or Fulbright commission.

Under no circumstances are participants allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the Institute or remain in the United States after its end date. Similarly, participants will not be permitted to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends while in the United States. If a relative or friend wishes to visit them, it will be considered on a case by case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution. Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute(s). Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

To be considered for evaluation, applicants MUST:

  • Submit completed online application form
  • Respond to all essay questions as instructed, adhering to indicated word limits.
  • Provide one or two letters of recommendation in English, or in Ukrainian with English translations. One letter of recommendation must be completed by instructor, professor or advisor from the student’s university. The second recommendation can be from an employer, coach, or community/volunteer activities supervisor. Each letter of recommendation must have a contact information (telephone, email address) of a person who provided it. Family members and personal friends may not provide letters of recommendation.
  • Provide official confirmation of the current academic year enrollment ‘dovidka’ (or a transcript). This document does not need an official translation into English.
  • Submit all above mentioned application documents in one email message with your full name and program title in the subject line.

Selection Process

Competition for the SUSI Program is open and merit-based. Selection committee will review all eligible applications and invite semi-finalists for interviews.

Upon receipt, evaluation of applications and interview reports, final selection will be made by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington, D.C.

For more information, please, contact us at: KyivSUSI@state.gov