Seventh Year of Young Leaders Institute Explores Sustainability, Security, Global Education
HOUSTON, August 9, 2022 — Asia Society Texas’ Young Leaders Institute returned to fully in-person sessions in its seventh summer, welcoming 55 students from 26 Houston-area schools from late June through July. The teen summer sessions, each a week long, are designed to help Houston’s high school students develop into culturally fluent, globally aware leaders in our interconnected world. Students in the 2022 Young Leaders Institute explored global policy issues within the topics of Energy and Sustainability, International Security and Defense, and Global Education.
With the goals of expanding knowledge and perspectives, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and strengthening collaboration and leadership, the students worked together 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 as well as from expert lecturers, offsite visits, and institute staff.
In the Energy and Sustainability session, expert speakers included Uday Turaga, Founder and CEO of ADI Analytics; Yaneth Calderon, the Climate Equity Coordinator at the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability; and Jason Ethier, an energy entrepreneur, marketer, and general manager currently with Greentown Labs Houston.
In the International Security and Defense session, students heard from Eric Botts, Assistant Professor and Director of the Global Cyber Security Program at the University of St. Thomas; Zachary Zwald, Instructional Assistant Professor in International Security at the University of Houston; and Dr. Jeremiah O. Asaka, Assistant Professor of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University to learn about cyber, nuclear, and climate security.
In Global Education, speakers included Dr. Beverly Barrett, Assistant Professor at the Cameron School of Business at the University of St. Thomas; Ambassador Michael Pelletier, founding Executive Director of the Aspire Initiative Endowed Institute for Global Engagement at the University of Houston; and Helen V. Chou, Director of People and Strategy at Athena Infonomics, who introduced students to the importance of diversity of perspective and the roles of international development.
Throughout each week, the students also engaged in different leadership and team-building activities to strengthen their understanding of the world, develop empathy and cultural awareness, and learn to communicate effectively. In addition, students benefitted from offsite visits or other leadership development opportunities to learn in a different environment. In a visit to the BP campus, students in the Energy and Sustainability session visited the trading floor and the wind remote operations center, received a digital tour of the Argos platform, and engaged directly with BP employees about the company’s net zero goals. In the Global Education session, the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston generously hosted the students, introduced them to Japan’s education system and school life, and provided them cultural context around the daruma wishing dolls each student received as a gift. For students in the International Security and Defense session, an early-career professional panel consisting of young professionals from varied backgrounds and fields shared their personal experiences on internships, finding a job, and building and utilizing networks, followed by breakout sessions with the students to discuss leadership.
At the end of each institute, students presented their final policy solutions in teams before a panel of three judges on Friday morning.
- In Energy and Sustainability, the judges selected the group who presented on Facilitating the Adoption of Renewable Energy in Response to the Russian Oil Crisis, and noted they were impressed by the innovative solutions that built on learnings from other countries and precedents to address a timely, relevant world issue.
- The winning group in International Security and Defense tackled a complex issue in their policy proposal, Strengthening U.S. Policy Towards Taiwan, leading the judges to commend the group for their boldness, layered policy, and ability to handle tough questions.
- In Global Education, the top-rated group presented on Dropout Rates in Thailand, supporting their policy proposal with what the judges praised as detailed research, clear visual aids and data, and solutions that aligned with the issues they had identified.
Students found value in the ability to meet others who were also interested in global issues. One student shared, “The best part of YLI was meeting new people, professionals, and acquaintances and being able to learn from them as well as share my own thoughts with them.”
Another student reflected on leadership development, saying, “I have learned being a good leader means respecting everyone’s ideas and compromising in times of conflict. I have noted that being a leader encompasses the ability to grapple on efficacy and trust among peers.” They added, that, in the future, “Others could potentially see me being more confident in presenting claims [while also] respecting others’ opinions.”
One of the judges for student presentations said, “I am enormously impressed by the students in their knowledge about the issue and their skills in presenting their analysis and arguments. I can’t wait to learn what they will be doing in the upcoming years. I am also thankful for Asia Society Texas to organize such a program to help groom the next generation of leaders.”
Previous Young Leaders Institute Programming
Young Leaders Institute's Sixth Year Offers Leadership, Policy Development Opportunities Through Diverse Topics
In Fifth Year, Young Leaders Institute Connects Students, Builds Global Competency Virtually
Young Leaders Institute Broadens Scope, Fosters Collaborative Leadership in Fourth Year
In YLI's Third Year, Students Design Policy Solutions in China, India, and the Middle East
High School Students Discover China and India through Summer Institute
Students Dive Deep Into U.S.-China Relations During Young Leaders Institute
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.