Civic Leadership

Civic Leadership
208 Rice Memorial Center

Caroline Quenemoen
Executive Director

Madalina Akli
Associate Director

In support of Rice’s mission of providing a distinctive undergraduate experience, the Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) helps undergraduate students develop the knowledge, skills, and values to address the problems of the 21st century and to lead in a variety of community environments. The focus on civic leadership reflects not only Rice’s mission but a broader trend that recognizes the civic purpose of 21st century institutions of higher education to cultivate social responsibility and active citizenship. The CCL’s approach to leadership education stresses the development of knowledge to understand the complex challenges facing today’s society, skills to motivate and collaborate with diverse stakeholders to take informed action, and values to effect positive change.

All students begin the program by completing a CCL Immersion Program, which introduces them to problems facing the city of Houston (through lectures, community tours, and short-term service) and develops skills in reflective practice critical to leadership development.

Additionally, students will complete a minimum of 3 credit hours of social issues electives and a minimum of 3 credit hours of leadership electives chosen from a list of courses covering relevant topics. Timely, personalized advising will play an important role in the selection of the electives in order to ensure that students follow an academically coherent path to the certificate.  The purpose of this element of the certificate pathway is to provide foundational knowledge directly pertinent to a student’s capstone project.

Subsequently, students will apply to participate in a CCL Action Program that allows them to work in collaboration with a community partner to address a problem or need. To be selected to one of these programs, students must demonstrate relevant academic preparation.

Upon completion of the above listed requirements, students with a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 may apply in the spring of their sophomore or junior year for admittance to the Certificate in Civic Leadership.

To receive the certificate, students must complete a substantial civic leadership project in partnership with a community organization under the guidance of one faculty and one CCL advisor. In the fall semester, all admitted certificate students take UNIV 402, in which they prepare for their capstone projects by researching a community need or problem, designing a sustainable response, developing a project proposal, and reflecting on leadership challenges and solutions. Students subsequently carry out their projects independently in the spring semester under the direction of their faculty advisor and the capstone instructor (UNIV 403). To register for UNIV 403, students must have successfully completed UNIV 402 and received approval for their CCL capstone project proposal from their advisors, their community partner, and the UNIV 402 course instructor. UNIV 403 students must present their project results to the community partner through a formal presentation and written report before the conclusion of the course. Additionally, students are encouraged to present at a formal venue, such as a conference or symposium, within one year of course completion.

Consideration for receipt of the certificate requires submission of a portfolio that includes the capstone project and description of its outcomes, a reflection essay on civic leadership, and a public presentation to the campus and community. Upon recommendation of the capstone instructor and faculty advisor, the certificate will be awarded by vote of the faculty advisory board and recognized on the student’s official transcript upon graduation.

Civic Leadership does not currently offer an academic program at the graduate level.

Executive Director

Caroline Quenemoen

Faculty Director

Robert Stein, Political Science

Director of Programs and Partnerships

Libby Vann

Director of Curriculum and Fellowships

Danika Burgess

Associate Directors

Madalina Akli
Michael S. Domeracki
Alan Steinberg
Marcia Walker-McWilliams

For Rice University degree-granting programs:
To view the list of official course offerings, please see Rice’s Course Catalog
To view the most recent semester’s course schedule, please see Rice's Course Schedule

Description and Code Legend

Note: Internally, the university uses the following descriptions, codes, and abbreviations for this academic program. The following is a quick reference: 

Course Catalog/Schedule 

  • Course offerings/subject code: LEAD

Center Description and Code

  • Center for Civic Leadership: LEAD 

Undergraduate Certificate Description and Code

  • Certificate in Civic Leadership: CCL