The selection process takes place during the late in the fall and early in the spring semesters and consists of four stages: nomination, application, group interview, and individual interview. Prior to starting the selection process, applicants are strongly encouraged to review the “About Us” section of the website to learn more about the Blackburn Institute’s vision, mission, and values. Below are the process deadlines and information for the 2020-21 academic year.

Nominations: August 3, 2020 (8:00am CST) – January 13, 2021 (11:59pm CST)

Students may self-nominate or be nominated by a member of the university’s faculty or staff, Blackburn Fellows (alumni), Students, or Advisory Board members using this nomination link. We seek students who:

  • demonstrate interest and leadership relating to public policy;
  • indicate strong interest in exploring issues facing the state of Alabama;
  • demonstrate their ability to contribute progressive leadership on issues;
  • demonstrate a clear concept of local, state or national issues; and
  • have at least one full year remaining as a student (undergraduate or graduate) at The University of Alabama.

Nominees receive notification of their nomination via e-mail. Nominees are also invited to a New Student Interest Session, where they learn more about the Institute and the selection process, as well as meet current Blackburn students and have a chance to ask questions.

Application: January 13 (12:01am CST) – 25 (11:59pm CST), 2021

In mid- to late-January, nominated students who are interested in the Institute will then complete an application consisting of one essay question. Essays are evaluated anonymously by a panel of Blackburn Fellows, Advisory Board members, students, and campus staff members.

Group Interview: February 16-18, 2021

All applicants participate in a small-group interview with other applicants in mid-February. The panel of observers for the group interviews will typically consist of a Blackburn staff member, a current Blackburn student, and another member of our community (student, Fellow, or Advisory Board member).

Individual Interview: February 25-27, 2021

A combined score from both the application essay and group interview performance is used to determine the students selected for individual interviews. Selected students will be notified by e-mail and conduct the interview in late-February with a review panel of advisory board members, staff, students, and fellows.

Required Events and Activities

Students accepted into the Blackburn Institute’s 2021 New Student Class are required to attend the following events.

  • Sunday, March 7, 2021 – New Student Orientation and Social
  • Friday, March 26 to Saturday, March 27, 2021 – D. Ray Pate New Student Retreat
  • Monday, April 12, 2021 – Annual Networking Dinner sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company Foundation (Birmingham, AL)
  • Friday, August 27 to Saturday, August 28, 2021 – Annual Symposium
  • Sunday, September 26, 2021 – Pre-Trip Preparation Meeting
  • Wednesday, October 27 to Saturday, October 30, 2021 – Burt Jones Travel Experience
  • Sunday, November 7, 2021 – Post-Trip Debriefing
  • TBD, November, 2021 – Daniel Community Scholars Poster Presentations and Reception
  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022 – Pre-Trip Preparation Meeting
  • Thursday, January 20 – Friday, January 21, 2022 – Protective Life Government Experience (Montgomery, AL)
  • Sunday, January 30, 2022 – Post-Trip Debriefing

Additionally, selected students commit to the following program activities:

  • Two advising meetings each semester, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, with Blackburn Institute staff members;
  • Group work necessary to research and plan (Fall 2021), and implement (Spring 2022) a class civic engagement project; and
  • Monthly small-group meeting on a Monday-Thursday evening (September, October, and November 2021 and February 2022).