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Teenaged globalists come to campus

Two hundred teenagers pack into William L. Harkness Hall to hear Professor Jonathan Holloway ’95PhD, the new dean of Yale College. He’s about to give a lecture titled “What it Means to Be an American,” but he can’t start until someone finishes reading names off an attendance sheet. A student is whispering a story to the friend beside her: “And she was like ‘It’s an American thing,’ and then I said, ‘No it’s not,’ but she said ‘yes, it is!’ She’s wrong though, everybody does that.” She’s talking about high fives.

She’s one of Yale’s Young Global Scholars, one of 600 high school students selected from thousands of applicants to study global issues and leadership in New Haven this summer. The program is open to high school sophomores and juniors from around the world. It costs $5,000 for a two-week session, although about a third of the students receive full or partial financial aid. This year, the participants hail from more than 75 countries.

A standard day includes lectures from Yale professors and seminars with grad students. The program is divided into three two-week sessions, each with a different curriculum and student body. The first session, “Science, Policy, and Innovation,” took place this June, and offered its students the opportunity to explore issues like climate change, energy alternatives, and technological entrepreneurship. Right now, the second session, “Politics, Law, and Economics,” is taking place, featuring lectures from professors like Holloway and law professor Akhil Amar ’80, ’84JD. Later this month, 200 more students will attend “Studies in Grand Strategy,” based on Yale’s Brady-Johnson program.

The program began as a small speech and debate program 13 years ago under the name Ivy Scholars. It was recast as an international program and given its new name in 2012. Now administered by Yale’s Office of International Affairs, YYGS has grown rapidly since. Ted Wittenstein ’04, ’12JD, director of the program, says it is an effort to address increasing internationalization by “inspiring young people all over the world to see what Yale has to offer. And part of what we’re doing is connecting and networking these students.”

Cultivating the next generation of global leaders is no easy business, and the program is rigorous; most of each day is spent in class. But as in any summer program—or at Yale—a lot of the learning takes place outside of class. As Monisha Iswaran, a 16-year-old student from Singapore, wrote on the first session’s blog: “It was the discussions we had among ourselves, the jokes we made during free time, the nighttime outings, and hearing the diverse and intriguing backgrounds of the numerous and bright people I met that really inspired me and resulted in me coming back home with renewed passion in everything I do.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.


Filed under summer, Global Scholars, international affairs


  • Fernand Guevara Mekongo Mballa
    Fernand Guevara Mekongo Mballa, 12:01pm July 27 2014 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Thanks for this program. I really appreciate it as I have already got three of my Cameroonian students accepted in just two years. The impact of this program is just amazing because it reaches out to faraway local areas where these students are from. They in turn give something of their Yale experience to those who don't have this opportunity.
    Thanks for all

  • Kyle Ranieri
    Kyle Ranieri, 12:34pm July 27 2014 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have participated in the Grand Strategy program in 2013. At that point, I truly fell in love with Yale and it truly spurred a greater interest in global affairs. All of the professors are the best of the best and the diverse group of students selected bring even more diverse discussion to the table. In the fall I'll be entering my freshman year at Yale and I will always remember my first impressions from YYGS.

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