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Public Leadership

About the Program

"The purpose of education in a university is not only to develop the mind, but to nurture the heart–to prepare students for a life of constructive citizenship and leadership. This means giving back their time, their talents and their resources to improve their communities and society."   
- Wallace D. Loh, President of the University of Maryland
Public Leadership provides students with an interest in public service the opportunity to address pressing social, political and economic problems. Public Leadership Scholars are informed and engaged citizens who provide ethically-based leadership from the local to the global level. Students who start their college career as part of the Public Leadership program emerge with a solid foundation to develop their leadership potential in any field.
The program explores leadership and citizenship as well as contemporary approaches to the theory and practice of civic engagement in both democratic and non-democratic societies. Through small classes and discussions, active learning, and living together in the shared community of Centreville Hall, the Public Leadership program prepares students with a set of skills that will serve them in every aspect of their adult lives. In particular, students in the Public Leadership Program:
  • Become informed citizens who are able to reason critically and persuasively about public matters;
  • Develop diverse approaches to leadership and citizenship in a multicultural and democratic society;
  • Explore and assess their personal values, beliefs, and purpose as they develop their own leadership potential;
  • Learn how to resolve conflicts within a group in order to solve common problems;
  • Form an ethical vision and communicate it effectively through public speaking, writing, dialogue, and personal example;
  • Are able to facilitate cooperation in the workplace and community;
  • Become true philanthropists, conducting phone interviews and site visits, ultimately donating funds to a real non-profit organization working toward social change.
Students have numerous opportunities to engage in experiential- and service-learning through field trips, service-learning projects, internships, guest-speaker events and leadership retreats. In the fall of their first year, Public Leadership Students lay the intellectual foundations and improve their competencies for the spring semester’s community-based learning (CBL) projects on campus, in Prince George’s County and throughout the DC metro area.  These projects give Public Leadership students the opportunity to build and develop partnerships with local as well as global organizations such as The Davis Moon Project, Girls Excelling in Math and Science, Anacostia Watershed Society, Junior Achievement, Capital City Public Charter School, and a program founded by a former PL Scholar called Books Across Borders, which sends books to educational institutions and literacy projects in Africa. Public Leadership also offers a study abroad opportunity in Morocco that exposes students to Morocco's culture and human rights movement through the lens of public leadership.
Recently, PL has expanded to explore the field of philanthropy and gives students the opportunity to act as philanthropists themselves, developing their own philanthropic vision and skills as public leaders.  Having developed this vision, students in the Public Leadership course entitled "The Art and Science of Philanthropy" learn how to deploy resources including donations, volunteers, and voluntary associations to make an impact.  The course includes a grant competition, in which students deliberate and decide how best to donate up to $27,000. They partner with one or more organizations and provide grants to support high-impact programs.
Located near the nation's capital, the state capital, and a large international diplomatic community, the University of Maryland is an ideal setting for examining and growing public leadership. Public Leadership is sponsored by the School of Public Policy.


Spring 2013
  • CPSP 119P
  • CPSP 388P
Fall 2012
  • CPSP 118P
  • CPSP 218P
  • PUAF 201
Citation Requirements:
  • Public Leadership Citation Requirements for Students who Matriculated in Fall 2013
  • Public Leadership Citation Requirements for Students Matriculating in Fall 2012
  • Public Leadership Citation Requirements for Students who Matriculated in Fall 2011
Capstone Options
  • CPSP 239P Internship Course
Students can choose to have an internship in the spring or summer (note summer fees are higher).  Internships must be arranged with a site supervisor prior to course registration. Students will complete an internship contract and have midpoint and final evaluations with the supervisor. Students are responsible for bi-monthly journals, a final reflection paper, and students must work 8-10 hours a week.
  • CPSP 388P Advanced Special Topics in College Park Scholars: Leadership and Social Chance
Students will study democratic leadership through biographies or autobiographies of historic leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela as well as authoritarian leadership of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator. 
  • PUAF 359i The Art and Science of Philanthropy
In this innovative course, students learn the strategies of effective public leaders and then set up and run a philanthropic fund. Students will ultimately invest thousands of dollars with an organization(s) working to achieve a beneficial change.
  • CPSP 359W Discovery Research Course at the Library of Congress
Enrolled students participate in the College Park Scholars Academic Showcase.  Friday lab will take place at the Library of Congress.  This course introduces students to Library of Congress' librarians, archivists, and specialists who help students identify the primary research resources available at the Library of Congress to answer a research question.
  • CPSP359 Advanced Practicum: Research
Enrolled students are required to participate in the College Park Scholars Academic Showcase.  This traditional discovery course exposes students to 5-6 social science research methodologies and mentors students to research a question of their own choosing. 
  • Study Abroad Experiences also count as a Capstone Option

Faculty and Staff

Public Leadership Program Office: 1214 Centreville Hall - UM, College Park MD 20742
Phone: 301 314 8657

jenniferJennifer Littlefield, Director

Phone: (301) 405-4765
Jennifer Littlefield is the director for the College Park Scholars Public Leadership program and the associate director of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Jennifer began her career in the area of fundraising and program development for nonprofits and universities. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, she served as the assistant director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement (ILA) in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. In this role, Jennifer assisted with all areas of the Institute, including working with their two undergraduate leadership programs, planning and coordinating a study abroad program to Tanzania, Africa, and working with various corporate and community partners of the ILA.  She assisted in the planning and implementation of the Georgia Leadership Institute, a leadership development program for high-level executives in state government.  Jennifer has also been heavily involved in civic engagement and service-learning initiatives at both the University of Maryland and the University of Georgia.  Over the past 10 years, she has taught numerous courses in the area of leadership and career development. For the past four years Jennifer has served as a research consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  She has also conducted extensive research in the area of cross-sector collaboration and effective grant making.  She has authored numerous articles and presented in various conferences on this topic.  Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Georgia and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Maryland School of Public Policy.

kenyattaKenyatta Crenshaw, Associate Director

Phone: (301) 405-7978
Kenyatta Crenshaw serves as the associate director of the College Park Scholars Public Leadership (PL) program and is coordinator for PL Community-Based Learning program. Kenyatta is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership (TLPL) with the College of Education at the University of Maryland. Her research interests include: the intersections of Technology, Education, and Culture in K-20 learning environments; issues of critical pedagogy and school reform in the implementation of 21st century living and learning skills; issues of identity, equity, and access in schooling systems; and critical pedagogy in urban learning environments. Prior to her position in PL, Kenyatta served in mid-level management with the Department of Resident Life.  Kenyatta brings a strong desire and commitment to utilize knowledge, experience and leadership skills to passionately, supportively serve and collaborate efforts to increase student’s intellectual, social, and communal development in service to others for the common good.


Active Learning

Community-Based Learning and Civic Engagement
In the spring of their first year, students participate in PL's Community-Based Learning program in which they engage with an organization in the wider community to design and implement a project of their choice. The projects give students the opportunity to use their leadership training outside of the classroom, thus helping them become more thoughtful and experienced leaders, while also providing a service to the community.  Current projects include mentoring local middle school girls in math and science, lobbying for sustainable energy policy in DC, making a video to publicize the work of a shelter for victims of sex-trafficking, and collecting books for child literacy programs in Africa. 
For a brief description of all projects Public Leadership in which PL students are currently engaged, please read below.
Leadership In Practice: Student Organizations
Demonstrating their learned leadership skills and a wide rage of interests, many Public Leadership students have founded a vast array of student organizations here at the University of Maryland. From advocacy-based initiatives, to sports clubs, to singing groups, Public Leadership students have demonstrated their passion for civic engagement and stand out as true leaders in the University of Maryland community and beyond.
Service Day
On Scholars Annual Service Day, students from each of the Scholars programs join together to help out the surrounding community. Beginning their day at Comcast Center, faculty, staff, and student leaders greet the incoming Scholars class, and prepare for a full day of service. Service Day gives students the opportunity to get to know fellow Scholars and start building relationships with faculty members. Through teamwork and cooperation, Scholars not only become acquainted with the program, but also come away from the day knowing that they helped to make a difference in their community. More information is available at our Service Day site.
"Step Up to Bat for Kids" Charity Softball Tournament
Every spring, the Scholars programs come together and engage in some healthy competition, all for a good cause. This daylong tournament fields teams from each program on our campus engineering fields. Since the first teams took the field in 1998, the "Step Up to Bat for Kids" Charity Softball Tournament has been able to donate over $10,000 to charities around the world who deal with the health and welfare of children and families. The success of the event relies completely on the dedication and support from students and staff. While Scholars are responsible for raising all of the money, faculty and staff plan far in advance in order to provide students with a memorable and rewarding experience. More information on the tournament is available on our "Step Up to Bat for Kids" site.
Study Abroad
The public leadership study abroad trip provides students with the opportunity to explore modern leadership and citizenship issues through the lens of Moroccan culture and history. Through living with host families, students are fully immersed in the Moroccan culture during their three weeks in the country. Visits to religious establishments, state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations allow students to engage directly with public leaders and to explore current issues in Moroccan society. Students learn basic Arabic expressions upon arrival to aid in forming relationships and addressing topics such as gender, religion, human development and rights, and economics. These topics are further explored through local field trips, community service, and dialogues with Moroccan students. Although the primary residence is in Rabat, students travel to sites of cultural importance including Casablanca, Marrakech and Fes. More information can be found on the University's Study Abroad office website.


Program Sponsors

Student Leadership Opportunities

Program Representative, Student Advisory Board
The College Park Scholars Student Advisory Board provides a unique leadership opportunity for students to serve their peers, their programs, and their community. Each Scholars Program has two seats on the Board - one freshman and one sophomore. The Student Advisory Board assumes multiple roles within the Cambridge Community, including:
  • Providing student voices to the Scholars Executive Director and Central Staff;
  • Communicating curricular, extracurricular, and noteworthy components of their program experiences to the Executive Director and to other board members;
  • Assisting in the management of Scholars-wide events, such as: Service Day, Citation Ceremony, Terrapin Pride Day, the annual Charity Softball Tournament and its fundraising efforts;
  • Responding to incidents, concerns, or issues within the Cambridge Community or on campus.
For more information, please visit the College Park Scholars Student Advisory Board Web site.
Program Ambassador, College Park Scholars Ambassadors
The College Park Scholars Ambassadors are a group of Scholars students who volunteer to help make the Scholars program a success. Ambassadors help recruit prospective students to the program, assist the Scholars central staff at a variety of special events and projects, continually help to improve the program by offering informal feedback on a variety of issues, and work toward building a stronger community across all the Scholars programs.
For more information, please visit the College Park Scholars Ambassadors Web site.

Teaching Assistant Opportunities

PL alumni have the opportunity as juniors and seniors to return as teaching assistants in either the Freshman Fall and Spring Colloquia or the Sophomore Fall Colloquium.  Students earn 1 – 3 credits depending on how many sections they assist and how much responsibility they take on in those sections.  Duties include attending the weekly colloquium, assisting in the course development and grading, helping lead class discussions, and mentoring community-based learning group "service" projects.  TAs also teach one colloquium session with a topic or activity of their choice, and--for the Freshmen--organize a student trip to walk the Adams Morgan or U Street Heritage Trail in DC.  This is a great opportunity for students to stay involved with PL, be a mentor to the younger class, boost their resume, and get some great experience.

Campus Resources

Educational and Research Resources

Public Leadership News

cohenScholars alumnus named Merrill Presidential Scholar
College Park, Md. -- Zachary Cohen, an alumnus of the Public Leadership (PL) Scholars program, was recently named a 2012-2013 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar. Cohen, along with the 24 other Merrill Scholars were honored at a Nov. 2 luncheon. 

15 Nov 2012 Print
zachcohenPublic Leadership alumnus elected to chair USM Student Council
College Park, Md. -- A College Park Scholars alumnus has been elected as chairman of the University System of Maryland (USM) Student Council.

12 Jun 2012 Print
First-year Scholar Wins Department of Government and Politics Scholarship
College Park, Md. -- Charmaine Wilson-Jones, a first-year Public Leadership (PL) scholar recently received the Oppenheimer Scholarship through the University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Wilson-Jones, a government and politics major, is a native of Prince George’s County, Md.

25 Apr 2012 Print
New Public Leadership Director Announced For Fall 2012
College Park, Md. -- Newly appointed director of undergraduate studies for the School of Public Policy, Nina Harris, Ed.D., will bring her leadership expertise back to the College Park Scholars Public Leadership program when she returns as the faculty director in fall 2012, according to Public Policy Dean Don Kettl.

23 Feb 2012 Print
College Park, Md. -- This weekend, current students and alumni of the College Park Scholars Public Leadership (PL) program will be featured in “The Art and Science of Giving,” a television segment about the University of Maryland Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program.

02 Dec 2011 Print