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Student Engagement and Leadership


The Riley Institute Advance Team with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Richard Riley

As part of the political science department at Furman University, student engagement and leadership was the first and remains a central aspect of the Riley Institute’s work and helps identify and attract a diverse population of extremely well qualified and prepared high students to Furman.

Beginning in 1999, its first year, the Riley Institute began a speaker/visitor series to “bring the world to Furman” to broaden all student’s opportunities, as well as those of the broader community, through information, analysis, and civil discussion. Numerous internationally recognized speakers have headlined these events, including Bill Clinton, Christine Todd Whitman, Newt Gingrich, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Tom Brokaw, Mike McConnell, Howard Baker, and many more. The Institute supports student engagement with these leaders through its 25-member student Advance Team, who assist in event and speaker management and engage in small-group interaction with them, as do Furman’s Hollingsworth Scholars.

The Riley Institute also offers a annual student event focusing on a specific section of the Constitution or its amendments, often through the lens of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. These programs feature Furman professors and visiting experts who discuss interesting, relevant, and timely constitutional issues that highlight the current debates in American society.

Advance Team
American Politics and Policy
Constitution Day
National Conferences
Furman University Political Science Department

With the support of Academic Affairs, the Riley Institute hosts one or more Woodrow Wilson visiting scholars each year. Chosen from the Woodrow Wilson Center’s impressive roster of newsmakers and scholars prominent in a broad array of issue areas, Woodrow Wilson visiting scholars typically reside on the Furman campus for one week with an intensive schedule of teaching and meetings with students and faculty, in large and small groups. Advance Team members and Hollingsworth Scholars are afforded special access to visiting scholars. 

Woodrow Wilson/Fellows in Residence

Each year the Institute sends a student delegation to the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Furman is the only American University chosen to do so). The Riley Institute developed and annually implements South Carolina United, a week-long summer leadership institute for the Hollingsworth Scholars. It also developed and each year implements the Emerging Public Leaders (EPL) program, which brings the best of the state’s rising high school seniors to Furman for a week-long summer service leadership institute. Many EPL participants later enroll in Furman. 

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Emerging Public Leaders (EPL)
South Carolina United (SCU)/Hollingworth Scholars