Launched in September 2009, The Athena Center offers a range of academic courses that examine all aspects of women’s leadership from the distinctive perspective of the liberal arts. Using an innovative, interdisciplinary approach that combines rigorous academic and experiential study, the program helps Barnard women prepare to assume positions of leadership at the highest levels of achievement. Students explore how women lead and whether gender affects leadership styles and strategies alongside their selection of a major. The Center also sponsors lectures, mentoring and leadership opportunities and the Athena Leadership Lab which offers a wide range of workshops designed to teach practical elements of leadership to students, alums and others leaders in New York. Follow the growth of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies.
The Writing Fellows Program offers students with strong writing, reading, and communication skills an opportunity to become peer tutors in writing. During their first semester in the program, students take a seminar and practicum in the teaching of writing (The Writer's Process), usually in the autumn term of their sophomore or junior year. As Writing Fellows, they work in different settings (e.g., The Jong Writing Center, writing-intensive courses across the curriculum) with Barnard undergraduates at all levels and in all disciplines. Writing Fellows receive a stipend and are asked to make a commitment of three semesters to the Program.
Students with exceptional public speaking skills and an interest in leading groups of their peers may apply for the Speaking Fellows Program. During their first semester in the program, students take a seminar and practicum in the theory and teaching of public speaking , usually in the autumn term of their sophomore or junior year. As Speaking Fellows, they work with small groups of Barnard and Columbia undergraduates on the fundamentals of public speaking, team presentation-giving, negotiating, and other skills required for course assignments. The program approaches public speaking as a critical leadership ability and focuses on helping students know how to use rhetorical skills to have an impact on the world around them. Speaking Fellows receive a stipend and are asked to make a commitment of three semesters to the Program.
As students at one of the top research liberal arts colleges, women at Barnard are actively encouraged to seek opportunities for research in many of the academic departments and research labs. Faculty are commiteed to hands-on, active-learning curricular model and will often incorporate research or fieldwork into classroom requirements. Guided internships, colloquia, and seminar courses provide the structure for such research and, in most cases, coursework fulfills major requirements. Projects may be faculty-directed, student-directed, or a collaboration between faculty and student. Students are also part of selective grant-funded summer research opportunities.
Research internships through programs like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Merck Company Foundation, Amgen or the Third Millennium Foundation for Storytelling are only a sampling of ways Barnard students involve themselves in research on campus and off. They are employed by research centers such as the Barnard Center for Research on Women or the Athena Scholars Program. They conduct field study through academic departments (at Columbia or Barnard) or by connecting with organizations in our surrounding community (projects may focus, for example, on the arts, the environment, the urban landscape, a community’s political infrastructure, innovative educational programs, public/private partnerships, or a combination of any or all of these). They are also involved in ongoing research projects in labs through out campus (just take a look at faculty research interests or lab descriptions on academic department sites for ideas).
For most majors, a senior thesis or research project is required, but students can get involved in research much earlier. The best way for students to learn about such opportunities is to connect with faculty in an intended academic department as early as possible.
"My most significant lesson in my participation in the Athena Program was the importance of both intentionality and determination in leadership. Leadership doesn’t just happen. One must identify goals and find steps to reach those goals, and most importantly, stick with it. A leader is almost never successful on a first try; it’s what you do with your second, third, and fourth chances that makes a difference. This was my biggest lesson.
- Rachel, Senior