2020 Civic Leadership Institute

June 7 - June 12 + June 21 - June 26

Apply today. 

The Civic Leadership Institute is a week-long program for high school students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Constitution and American political leaders through an on-campus experience at Arizona State University. 

Each year, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership hosts more than 60 high school students from around Arizona and the United States for its annual Civic Leadership Institute. This program is led by the school’s faculty and provides high school students with the opportunity to see what life is like as a Sun Devil. 

Students who are accepted into the free program spend a week on ASU’s Tempe campus, living and eating in the residence halls, learning in classrooms, and spending their free time at popular campus locations such as the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, Hayden Library, and “A” Mountain. They also work closely with the school’s faculty in lectures and breakout sessions and spend time with current Sun Devils who are the program’s peer mentors.

Read more about past Civic Leadership Institutes. 

Last year’s Civic Leadership Institute:

How to apply + Eligibility

The Civic Leadership Institute is intended for mature high school students with an interest in American civics, government, and history, and a strong academic potential to thrive in a challenging environment replicating a college experience. Eligible applicants will be rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, with a minimum of 3.25 GPA. (Seniors graduating in May 2020 are ineligible to apply.)

A selection committee reviews all completed applications, which consists of a transcript, as well as a personal statement of interest and/or a letter of recommendation.

Applicants will be selected on the basis of academic achievement, drawn from these materials, and including the following criteria:

  • Academic achievement evidenced by cumulative GPA.
  • Preparation and success in relevant coursework (e.g. American History or Government) -- minimum grade of B in all high school history or government classes taken to date.
  • Statewide representation (geographic diversity) is also a consideration in student selection.

Applications are due March 2, 2020.

Submit your application. 

“This institute gives (the students) the opportunity to get a head start on having knowledge about their constitutional rights and liberties, as well as the fundamental principles that have defined American debates and aspirations,” said Zack German, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Two distinct programs

The Civic Leadership Institute is divided into two specific programs: Constitutional Rights and Liberties and Abraham Lincoln and American Principles.

Both programs include several breakout sessions with professors who guide students through primary works on the U.S. Constitution and Abraham Lincoln, which mirrors how students are taught in the school’s undergraduate curriculum. The week culminates in a moot court or cabinet debate experience. In each, students reenact famous Supreme Court cases that have shaped the U.S. Constitution or decisive moments in the Lincoln presidency.

Constitutional Rights and Liberties

June 7 - June 12

In Constitutional Rights and Liberties, students explore the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, due process of law, and equal protection of the laws.

Abraham Lincoln and American Principles

June 21 - June 26

In Abraham Lincoln and American Principles, participants engage the political thought, speeches, and statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln to explore the fundamental American principles embodied in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution such as liberty, equality, constitutionalism, and democracy.

“We need to make sure all of our students are educated about civics so we can make informed decisions on voting and things like that,” said Sowmya V., a student at Desert Mountain High School.

Important Information

  • Statewide representation (geographic diversity) is also a consideration in student selection. 
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered. 
  • Students are able to apply for both tracks. 
  • Decisions from the selection committee are final. 
  • The program is free! Housing, meals, materials, interactive workshops with ASU faculty and fun activities are all included at no cost. 

Apply today. 


“I like exploring things like this because it really gives you great insight on what life would be like at ASU,” said Lexie S., a student at Veritas Preparatory Academy in Phoenix. “You get to see all the great teachers and the opportunities. They talk about all this amazing stuff, and the campus here is so beautiful.”