Eighth Year of Young Leaders Institute Explores Energy Transition, Equality and Human Development, Space Exploration
HOUSTON, August 22, 2023 — In its eighth summer, Asia Society Texas' Young Leaders Institute welcomed 53 students from 34 Houston-area schools from late June through August. The week-long summer sessions are designed to help high school students develop into culturally fluent, globally aware leaders while exploring the timely, relevant topics of Energy and Renewables, Equality and Human Development, and the Geopolitics of Space.
With the goals of expanding knowledge and perspectives, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and strengthening collaboration and leadership, the students worked in groups to develop a policy proposal for an issue within that week's topic. Representing public, private, and charter schools across Houston as well as diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences, the students learned from each other and from expert lecturers, offsite visits, and Asia Society staff, developing empathy, cultural awareness, and effective communication skills along the way.
The first session, Energy and Renewables, featured expert speakers Uday Turaga, Founder and CEO of ADI Analytics; Aaron Totemeier, Ph.D., founder at 1932 Advisors LLC; and Deborah Byers, a nonresident fellow at the Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies. Students also toured the BP campus, the wind remote operations center, and the Argos offshore platform, and learned about their trading floor.
In the second session, Equality and Human Development, students heard from Dr. Gordon Shen, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center; Representative Suleman Lalani, Texas State Representative and Board-Certified Physician; and Dr. Azie Aziz, Patent Agent and IP Analyst in Womble Bond Dickinson’s Houston office. Catholic Charities hosted the students for an offsite conversation about the organization's refugee services and professions in the nonprofit sector. The students then volunteered as a group in their food distribution center.
In final session, The Geopolitics of Space, speakers included Douglas McMullen, former SAIC Space Shuttle instructor; Dr. Kamlesh Lulla, Senior Scientist at NASA and Kenji Yamagata, Human Space Technology and Astronauts Department, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Students enjoyed an offsite visit to the Lone Star Flight Museum Space Gallery, where they learned about life in space and the development of cutting-edge space technology.
Throughout each week, the students also engaged in leadership and team-building activities to strength their individual skillsets in communication, collaboration, and presentation.
At the end of each week, students presented their final policy solutions in teams before a panel of three judges on Friday morning.
- In Energy and Renewables, the judges were impressed by the complexity of the winning group proposal, Implementing Offshore Wind in Hong Kong, and noted in particular that students considered all the necessary aspects to make their solution compelling.
- The winning presentation of Equality and Human Development, Girls’ Education Crisis in Pakistan, proposed a comprehensive and innovative solution through improving transportation services in Pakistan, and the judges appreciated that the group tackled a deeply complex issue for their policy proposal.
- The winning proposal, Why Should China Accept Starlink?, delved into how China could benefit from deploying Starlink technology to give its rural citizens access to the internet. The judges noted the plan’s ambition and creativity.
Students of all sessions found value in working together on issues of global importance. One student shared, "The best thing of the week was meeting new people who share and collaborate different ideas and perspectives."
Another student reflected on leadership skills: "The most important thing I learned this week was the importance of a leader in a group. They must be both competent in the topic and have the skills to guide their group to the mission." They also valued the time working with their group and shared, "The best part was working with a group to create a finished product we're proud of."
Judges highlighted all of students' outstanding jobs on selecting complex topics and finding practical real-world solutions, showing exceptional presentation, research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
The Young Leaders Institute is supported by bp America and Regions Bank.
Previous Young Leaders Institute Programming
2022: Highlights | Details: Energy and Sustainability, International Security and Defense, Global Education
2021: Highlights | Details: U.S.–China Relations, Public Health, Social Justice and Civic Engagement
2020: Highlights | Details: Energy and the Environment, Food Security, COVID-19
2019: Highlights | Details: U.S.–China Relations, Middle East, Energy and Security
2018: Highlights | Details: China, India, Middle East
2017: Highlights | Details: China, India
2016: Highlights | Details: China
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.