APRU Undergraduate Leadership Program


Fresh Approaches to a Gordian Knot:

Student Leaders Untangle Pacific Rim Environment, Health and Inequality Challenges

July 1–12, 2019


 Schedule | Faculty Leads | Resources for Participants

On July 1-12, 2019 the University of Oregon will host the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) annual Undergraduate Leadership Program (ULP). This will be an opportunity to showcase some of what we do best: high impact educational practices, such as undergraduate research and community-based learning, and the development of the next generation of leaders in the application of scientific knowledge to global societal dilemmas.

The 2019 program, “Fresh Approaches to a Gordian Knot: Student Leaders Untangle Pacific Rim Environment, Health and Inequality Challenges” will bring together 45-50 exceptional students to address three intertwined social dilemmas: environmental degradation, public health, and social inequality.  Local community organizations in each of the three areas will suggest a specific challenge from their own work, but with comparative resonance around the Pacific Rim.

For inquiries, questions, or to learn more about the 2019 APRU Undergraduate Leadership Program, please contact UO’s Innovative Program Coordinator, Grace Honeywell.

Mission Statement

The 2019 Association of Pacific Rim Universities Undergraduate Leadership Program, “Fresh Approaches to A Gordian Knot: Student Leaders Untangle Pacific Rim Environment, Health and Inequality Challenges,” seeks to empower young leaders of the Pacific Rim to untangle and address three globally relevant and increasingly critical social dilemmas: environmental degradation, public health, and social inequality. Participants will experience a combination of high impact educational practices with community-based learning and intensive leadership development. For 12 days here at the University of Oregon, participants will establish community, adopt empathy, hone research skills, encourage creativity, embrace innovation, allow for adaptability, move into action, and leave empowered.

Why Oregon?

This world-class university is at the forefront of addressing sustainability, championing new ways to help save our planet. We’re home to top programs in fields like sustainable architecture, genomics, green chemistry, environmental studies, neuroscience, smart cities, and sustainable business practices, to name just a few. Our students and faculty are inspired and equipped with the skills necessary to overcome interdisciplinary challenges of all kinds.

Nestled between the rugged Cascade mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean, we nurture the whole student. We integrate mind, body, and spirit in ways few universities can: step out of top research facilities and scholarly discussions into a culture of outdoor activities and fitness, surrounded by some of the most unspoiled natural beauty anywhere on the planet. Come and be a part of this unique, holistic community of engaged global scholars.

Impact Statement

The 2019 Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ Undergraduate Leadership Program brought together 52 students from 13 economies and 28 Universities around the Pacific Rim to participate in a two-week interdisciplinary program which was facilitated and staffed by a combination of University of Oregon undergraduates, graduates, faculty, special skills workshops and program coordinators. The program focused on a collaboration between three local community partners in Lane County who work in one of the three thematic areas of the program: environmental degradation, public health and social inequality. For this year’s ULP, participants were organized into 12 small team, four teams per subject area. Each community partner presented the teams with a broad real-world challenge that they encounter in their organization’s work. Over the course of the two weeks, students of varying disciplines, years, English fluency and cultural backgrounds collaborated together to develop an innovative and feasible solution to the presented challenge. Meanwhile, participants attended skills building workshops on topics such as science communication and design thinking which they could then apply to their problem-solving process. At the end of the two weeks the participants presented their formal proposals and received feedback and questions from their community partners. Each solution was exceptionally creative, well thought out, inspirational and compelling and all of the community partners repeatedly expressed how impressed they were by the student’s work. This experience challenged students academically and to think critically in an intense period of time but not only that, it allowed them to form meaningful, cross cultural relationships and lifelong friendships. Many participants stated upon the conclusion of the program that they wished it was longer and that they weren’t ready to leave Oregon. Overall, the 2019 APRU Undergraduate Leadership Program illustrated the tremendously positive impact that can occur when students from all different walks of life have the opportunity to connect, explore, learn, play, share and collaborate together.

Jiaqui working group

Jiaqi Hu – University of Science and Technology Hong Kong

“…we come from different countries, we have different color of skins, we may even have different beliefs, but it is not a problem, our target is untangling environment, health and inequality challenges.”

Eliza in the field

Eliza Amstutz – University of California, Los Angeles

“As I have said aloud many times during the program, I have never been part of a group of such kind, welcoming, people. I have felt my growth as a leader and group member during these past two weeks. The program was very well run and so much thought was put into it, it truly exceeded my expectations.”

Britt and team hugging

Britt Seifert – University of Hawaii

“My key takeaways are: take risks, make a plan and follow through, trust your teammates, give insightful feedback, brainstorm (no matter how crazy the ideas are), and always express appreciation towards your teammates.”

HIV team presenting

Jade Lazaris, Development Coordinator – HIV Alliance

"I’m so glad that HIV Alliance was tapped to be a part of this program. It was really great to brainstorm with management on a good challenge and once it was out there, holy cow! The students were engaging, passionate, ready to learn and had such amazing ideas! I loved that all of them focused on different challenges regarding confidential, rural outreach and I came away with some really great ideas on how to move forward. It was challenging to keep up with their questions but ultimately, I feel like they got to learn more about the HIV epidemic in our country, what we at HIV Alliance are doing for our state, and that a long-standing social issue was able to get the attention it needs with new fresh eyes. Thank you, U of O for your drive towards excellence.”