MHC, Smith, Simmons to Host WPSP Institute

Chiedza Mufunde '12 addresses WPSP delegates at the U.S. State Department in December 2011.

Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Simmons Colleges are preparing a two-week institute for emerging women leaders from post-conflict societies in Asia, to be held early next summer—from May 25 through June 6, 2014—in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The theme of the Women in Public Service Institute at Mount Holyoke, Simmons, and Smith will be Reconstructing Societies in the Wake of Conflict: Transitional Justice and Economic Development. Institute participants will be drawn predominantly from Asia and from women who are working to rebuild their communities and promote sustainable economic livelihoods in the wake of periods of political violence and human rights violations.

The Institute is part of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) founded in 2011 by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley colleges. The partnership has grown to include Simmons, Scripps, Mount St. Mary's, Mills, and Stephens colleges; the City College of New York; the College of Saint Benedict; and the University of Chicago, Institute of Politics. It also includes a public university consortium led by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

The partnership is focused primarily on training early- to mid-career women from around the world to advance their careers in government and public service as they move their communities and countries forward politically, economically, and socially. The central mission of WPSP is to foster by 2050 a world in which 50 percent of all civic and political leaders are female.

"The Women in Public Service Project, with its goal of dramatically expanding representation by women in public service worldwide, is an effort that is drawing interest not only from educational leaders, but from leaders in every field," said Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella. "There is a growing realization that when women are equal partners in leading societies, chances for positive social transformation are enhanced."

“WPSP exemplifies the important role that women’s colleges like Smith and Mount Holyoke are playing in the worldwide development of women leaders,” noted Smith President Kathleen McCartney. “I am proud of the work our institutions and our alumnae have done in establishing WPSP, and I look forward to joining our faculty in welcoming the delegates next summer.”

The institute will provide the emerging women leaders selected to participate with the concrete tools and training necessary to increase the scope, efficacy, and visibility of their work. Invited scholars, policymakers, and government and nongovernment representatives—among them Mount Holyoke and Smith alumnae—will aid delegates in expanding their leadership and communication skills, developing effective use of traditional and social media, and improving their ability to build regional, national, and international networks.

Faculty leaders for the project include Karen Remmler, professor of German studies at Mount Holyoke and director of the Five College Women's Studies Research Center, and Gregory White, professor of government and director of the Lewis Global Studies Center at Smith.

The Mount Holyoke-Smith-Simmons Institute will be the third summer institute held under the auspices of the WPSP.  Wellesley and Bryn Mawr have already hosted summer institutes, and there have been a number of shorter programs, including one on "Women's Leadership: Public Service and Global Health" that Smith hosted in Paris in fall 2012 and an "Institute for Women's Leadership in Latin America" hosted by Scripps and Mount St. Mary Colleges this past spring.

During the two weeks of the upcoming institute, delegates will spend time on all three campuses: May 25–28 at Mount Holyoke (with arrival May 24), at Simmons May 29–June 1, and at Smith June 2–6. Field trips are also being planned to visit elected leaders and community-based organizations in Boston, New York, and Holyoke.

More information on the Mount Holyoke-Smith Institute is available online.