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Mills’ Institute for Civic Leadership undergoes changes

Mills’ Institute for Civic Leadership [ICL] has recently undergone numerous changes. Starting this fall, the program will be offering more opportunities to those within the ICL program as well as the broader campus.

The ICL, which is housed in the school of education, “promotes the civic and democratic purposes of education in social justice realms,” according to the Mills’ website. The program requires an application, and those accepted take core classes in the program and are then matched with an internship at an organization that relates to their interests. Previous students in ICL have interned at places such as Bitch Magazine, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and offices of elected officials such as Barbara Lee and Gavin Newsom. Now ICL hopes to extend some of its opportunities to students outside of the program, according to Michaela Daystar, the program director.

“We spent a lot of time over a couple of years discussing the benefits and drawbacks of having a closed cohort,” Daystar said. “The kind of overwhelming feeling we had was that there just weren’t enough students who were able to take advantage of the oppurtunities…and we said ‘How can we make that more inclusive for other folks?’”

One of the ways that ICL will be doing this is with the addition of a new minor in Women, Leadership and Social Change, which any undergraduate can minor in, according to Daystar. This new minor is an interdisciplinary program built upon the core ICL courses – Women’s Civic Leadership Seminar and Civic Leadership and Social Text – with courses from the education department, ethnic studies, public policy and numerous others.

“We have the goal of expanding the leadership development and skills and tools that we’ve been doing within ICL to a broader audience than the students [in ICL], impacting more people,” Daystar said.

The ICL has also opened up the Women’s Leadership Seminar (ICL 181) to students outside of the ICL program; in fall 2014, the course will be open to anyone, sophomore through graduate level, regardless of whether they are in the ICL or not. This fall, the course will be taught by Visiting Assistant Professor Ingrid Seyer-Ochi. This course offers numerous opportunities for students to develop leadership skills through weekend retreats, guest speakers, and day long workshops, among other events. The Women’s Leadership Seminar is also adjusted each semester based on the backgrounds’ of the students.

“The syllabus is revised based on who’s in the room,” Seyer-Ochi said. “It’s a course that looks at the different students in the class and the leadership skills they want to learn and how they want to apply them.”

Seyer-Ochi hopes that offering this course to students outside of the ICL will bring more diversity to the classroom particularly a mix of undergraduates and graduates, as well as more transfer students. She also states that the Women’s Leadership Seminar is a great place for different levels of leadership because it provides students the opportunity to identify issues that they care about and make a change.

Both Daystar and Seyer-Ochi hope that these changes will help the ICL reach more people both within and outside of the cohort.

“We’re transitioning what ICL is to a different way of thinking about it,” Seyer-Ochi said.

To learn more about ICL, go to