2023 Annual Symposium break out sessionsAt the core of the Blackburn experience is the curriculum that guides new students through their first year. This Institute provides immersive learning opportunities designed to reinforce leadership development, learning, and civic outcomes aligned with the four overarching values. Following their selection in the spring semester, new students are guided through a curriculum that introduces them to the Institute’s vision, mission, and values; 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 Tuscaloosa community; and challenges them to listen actively and understand diverse points of view. Returning students have the opportunity to customize their learning by participating in activities to sharpen their leadership skills based on their individualized goals for personal and professional development.

New Student Curriculum

Included in the first-year curriculum are several mandatory events:

In addition, selected students commit to the following activities:

  • An advising meeting with Blackburn Institute staff members;
  • Group work necessary to research and plan (fall semester) and implement (spring semester) a civic engagement project (Daniel Community Scholars Project); and
  • Monthly small-group meeting (Small Group Values Discussion) on a Monday-Thursday evening (September, October, November, and February).

For more information on the student curriculum review the Student Resource Book 2021.

Returning Student Curriculum

Blackburn students who continue to matriculate at UA following their new student year are required to participate in Annual Symposium every year they remain on campus. Additionally, we offer the following opportunities for returning students’ continued development:

Returning students are also encouraged to participate in various leadership roles:

  • Student officers are elected each Spring to provide general leadership for Blackburn students and play a significant role in shaping the new student class.
  • The Daniel Community Scholars Program awards funding for local returning student projects and the rural initiative in communities visited through Burt Jones.
  • Facilitation team volunteers assist Institute staff in leading small group values discussions, travel experiences reflections, and other student programming.
  • Recruitment team members are selected by the staff to promote the Institute to other student groups on campus and engage with prospective applicants.

Expectations of Blackburn Membership

Blackburn students are nominated and selected from current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who have demonstrated leadership potential. Students must be enrolled and in good standing at The University of Alabama. Students are expected to participate actively in the institute’s curriculum to remain in good standing with the organization.

Selection as a Blackburn student does not automatically assure that one will be named a Blackburn Fellow upon graduation. The removal of a Blackburn student may be carried out for the following reasons:

  1. The student’s lack of participation in institute activities. Lack of participation is defined as the failure to complete required components of the first-year curriculum or to participate in any Blackburn Institute activities for a three-month period (excluding May, June, and July).
  2. The students is no longer enrolled or in good standing at The University of Alabama.
  3. At the student’s request.