Governor’s Institute on Current Issues & Youth Activism

This exciting and empowering 12-day Institute examines the critical connections between current issues, policy and the political questions that directly impact young people today. Working with a dynamic faculty and staff, the participants will explore how young people can get involved in the critical issues facing our state, our nation, and our world.

Participants engage in discussion during a Global Issues Group.

A typical program day consists of intensive issue groups, seminars with Vermont politicians, policymakers and activists, leadership skills workshops, debates, simulations, arts, sports, local field trips, and an evening cultural activity — improvisational theater, a barn dance, drumming, music, African dance workshop, or perhaps an ‘open mic’ night.

The Governor’s Institute brings together 60 of Vermont’s finest young leader, and challenges them to ask and find answers to difficult questions. It provides opportunities for students to form strong friendships and partnerships with their peers and to work closely with a skilled and experienced staff. The program inspires students to become politically active in their communities, make informed choices as young citizens and teaches them the skills needed to turn ideas into action.

Students participate in issue groups focusing on Ecology; Environment, Politics, Leadership & Social Justice, and Global Children’s issues. In workshops and seminars, the students discuss many issues such as: Livable Wages in Vermont and the U.S.; Poverty and Class; Youth Violence; Child Labor; Separation of Church and State; HIV/AIDS; Gender dynamics; Health Care; School Quality; Electoral reform; Global Warming; Human Rights; Civil Liberties; Media; and Body Image, to name but a few. We’ll take a critical and creative look at all the ‘hot button’ issues on today’s agenda.

Practical, hands-on leadership and activist skill sessions will provide training in public speaking, facilitation, project design, listening, internet research, and many more. Over the 12 days, the students will create projects and performance pieces that will be presented on the final day. Students will practice their activism by participating in Brattleboro’s July 4th parade. They will also have the opportunity to meet international high school students who are participating in parallel peacebuilding programs at SIT. To apply for this program, you must be a Vermont High School student, and please visit for program and application details.