Willamette invites students to sign up for summer sustainability institute in China

Willamette University is sponsoring an Advocacy Institute post-session this summer at Dalian Nationalities University in China that will equip students from Willamette and around the world with a deeper understanding of sustainability, provide the tools necessary for advocacy and inspire intercultural learning.

The Advocacy Institute for undergraduate students is sponsored by an office at Willamette revolving around global civic engagement. Formerly part of the International Debate Education Association, the office also facilitates the Youth Leadership Program, an April event inviting Willamette students to engage with visiting students from Bosnia and Herzegovina on global issues.

The summer institute at Dalian, happening May 18 through June 3, will invite students to engage in a similar way with many international students. Willamette students who enroll will join a group of up to 40 students from China, Mongolia and other countries to learn valuable skills in argumentation, public speaking, research and case building, as well as insight on Chinese culture and foreign response to global issues.

“The program is designed to give students advocacy skills to deal with any global issue they may encounter,” says Crystal Jeffers, the program’s communications coordinator. “Like other Willamette programs in the area of civic engagement, the Advocacy Institute helps students worldwide to become leaders in their communities.”

Willamette participants will earn one undergraduate credit as they compare case studies revolving around the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and another spill that occurred in Dalian. Focus will be on contrasting government response, organization response, cleanup efforts and the different cultural aspects surrounding the spills.

“At Dalian Nationalities University, every ethnic group in China is represented,” Jeffers says. “The institute is a unique opportunity for U.S. students to pair up and debate with Chinese students to hear differing opinions and perspectives.”

This will be the second summer for Willamette to host a post-session of this nature. Last year, several Willamette students and three professors joined students from Mongolia and other southern Asia countries at Xiaman University in China. This year’s students will be taught by Professors Scott Pike and Joe Bowersox from environmental and earth sciences, and Professor Robert Trapp from rhetoric and media studies.

Jeffers says the students who would benefit the most from this summer’s program are those interested in sustainability issues; global issues and policies; debate; and foreign cultures, particularly Asian cultures. However, she emphasized that students do not need a background nor even an interest in competitive debate to participate.

Applications are due March 15 and partial scholarships may be available to help cover the cost. Learn more at, or contact Hilary Jones at or the Office of International Education at