Building bridges: OUS to develop young adult leadership with new institute

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ohio University Southern is offering a first-time program to help area young adults develop their leadership skills this summer.

The program, called The Building Bridges Summer Institute (BBSI), will be held June 25-28 and will focus on activities like community building, engagement and self-reflection.

OUS will be accepting up to 30 participants in the first year of the program and is seeking students from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Eligible applicants include students entering 11th and 12th grades in high school, Class of 2019 high school graduates and area college or university students.

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“This unique and interactive experience will provide students a safe environment to come together to self-reflect, build and engage with each other on issues related to the intersection of diversity and leadership,” said Robert Pleasant, associate director of OUS’s Student Resource Commons. He said he hopes the Building Bridges Summer Institute helps young people overcome negativity brought by cultural divisions facing our country and our local communities.

The intended outcome is for BBSI participants to become successful advocates for themselves and others.

Pleasant said he hears from students who wonder what role they can take in breaking down cultural barriers.

“The Building Bridges Summer Institute will allow diverse students the opportunity to spend time together, to understand, appreciate and value each other,” he said.

Pleasant said he believes the experience will allow students to form lasting bonds that will lead them to development as “strong and effective leaders.”

Led by a team of trained facilitators, BBSI will help students to identify with their own culture, become informed about other cultures and behaviors, and engage in dialogue on current topics. Through hands-on activities, guest presenters and discussions, the institute seeks to build culturally competent leaders who are able to recognize, appreciate and value their similarities and differences and those of others.

Pleasant said the program’s objectives include providing students an opportunity to enhance understanding of their experiences, cultural identity, and worldview, recognizing and examining unconscious bias and stereotypes and its effects on behavior toward others, equipping students with effective communication tools; and developing an understanding of the complex social and cultural issues that others may face.

BBSI will take place at the Ironton Campus of Ohio University Southern, located at 1804 Liberty Avenue. The cost to attend is $40 per participant. There are a limited number of institute scholarships available for those who qualify.

To apply as a participant to BBSI, eligible students may register online at: or more information, contact Pleasant at 740-533-4600 or via email at