At the core of the Blackburn experience is the curriculum that guides new students through their first year with the institute. This curriculum is designed to reinforce leadership development, learning, and civic outcomes aligned with overarching  values of the Blackburn Institute. Starting with their selection in the spring semester, new students are guided through a one-year curriculum that introduces them to the vision, mission, and values of the institute; builds their personal and professional skills; provides them with opportunities for authentic relationship-building with possible mentors; engages them in civic work to improve the campus or Tuscaloosa community; and challenges them to actively listen to and understand diverse points of view.

Included in the curriculum are several mandatory events, including:

  • New Student Orientation and Social;
  • D. Ray Pate New Student Retreat;
  • Spring Networking Dinner;
  • Annual Symposium;
  • Burt Jones Rural Travel Experience (including pre-trip preparation and post-trip debriefing meetings);
  • Daniel Community Scholars Presentation and Reception; and
  • Protective Life Government Experience (including pre-trip preparation and post-trip debriefing meetings).

In addition, selected students commit to the following activities:

  • Two advising meetings each semester, fall and spring, with Blackburn Institute staff members;
  • Group work necessary to research and plan (fall semester) and implement (spring semester) a class civic engagement project; and
  • Monthly small-group meeting on a Monday-Thursday evening (September, October, November, and February).