Graduate Scholars

Leadership, Engagement, and Development

What is GS LEAD?

GS LEAD is a National Science Foundation funded program that trains doctoral students in problem-solving, interdisciplinary teamwork, leadership, communication, and engagement, critical professional skills that transcend discipline and prepare graduate students for a broad range of career choices. While this program is targeted to transforming the education of STEM graduate students, the inclusion of diverse students from across campus to form multidisciplinary teams is a critical component of this program. GS LEAD is ideally suited for incoming graduate students whom the admitting department believes have potential to be outstanding leaders in their field and who would benefit from early, focused training in the areas of problem-solving, leadership, effective communication, teamwork, and community engagement.

GS LEAD students will begin the program in an immersive summer academy. Following completion of the summer program, students will advance to a Grand Challenges Course for the fall semester. This 3 credit course will be taken along with others courses in their graduate programs.


GS LEAD begins with the Summer Academy which launches students into the Grand Challenge Course. After completing both portions of GS LEAD, students are expected to bring their newly acquired skills to their dissertation research and careers after graduate education.

The GS LEAD: Summer Academy begins mid-June and continues until the end of July with a break the week of July 4th. Doctoral students from STEM and other disciplines will be immersed in a student-centered learning environment that fosters the development of critical skills. Students selected to participate in the summer academy will receive a stipend in the amount of $5,000. Students will be responsible for making their own housing arrangements.

The GS LEAD: Grand Challenges Course (GRSC 8400) begins with the start of fall semester classes. The goal of the Challenge Course is for students to internalize the processes and practices learned in the summer academy so that they will be meaningfully carried forward into their dissertation research and professional careers. The central theme of the challenge course will be building resilience and sustainability into under-served communities. Within the overall theme of the program, students will work with community members to understand the challenges faced by communities in solving local issues and learn best practices in community engagement.

How are Participants Selected for GS LEAD?

To nominate an incoming doctoral student for GS LEAD, Graduate Coordinators must submit a nomination package using the GradStatus web portal


If you are an incoming doctoral student interested in participating in GS LEAD please contact your Graduate Coordinator.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Julie Coffield at or 706-542-6394.

For a downloadable brochure about GS LEAD, click here.