George Mason Is Home of Virginia Citizenship Institute

Posted: March 28, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

George Mason is the new home of the Virginia Citizenship Institute (VCI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to motivating young people to become involved in civic affairs. Founded four years ago by Greg Werkheiser, a University of Virginia law student, VCI is closely affiliated with the Department of Public and International Affairs and New Century College.

VCI has developed several programs, including awards programs to recognize individuals who have dedicated themselves to civic engagement, but the institute’s crown jewel is its summer program, which was held last year for the first time, in partnership with the University of Virginia. The mission of the summer program is to educate Virginia’s future leaders about the state’s political history and current political affairs, and to teach them the skills needed to influence the political process in Virginia effectively.

The institute recruits students who are intellectually gifted, have demonstrated leadership qualities, and expect to remain in Virginia after they graduate. Last year, 280 students applied for only 30 slots in the VCI summer program.

In addition to classroom settings in which students discuss the issues raised in assigned readings, the program features guest lectures, debates, discussions, and workshops. Guest speakers include CEO’s of Virginia’s leading corporations, elected officials, journalists, leaders of influential public organizations, faculty members from universities, and citizen activists.

VCI holds its second summer program, beginning May 28, on the Fairfax Campus. For more information about VCI, visit its website.

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