Leadership & Experiential Learning

With support from Vito and Mary Verni, the Institute works with faculty across the university to integrate leadership into current and future academic courses, with a special focus on providing experiential learning opportunities for Widener students. 

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It is unbelievable to think just how quickly transformative events can take place. As a Widener University international relations and political science dual major, I constantly strive to develop a global mindset and to gain cultural appreciation. With this being said, I could not have adequately prepared myself to attend a United Nations charter signing, a World Hunger Conference in Guelph, Canada, or even to be helping develop a mini-farm in Honduras. These high-impact experiences were so incredibly eye opening and have taken me far beyond my comfort zone. When I first heard of the Presidents United To Solve Hunger (PUSH) signing at the United Nations and learned of the many ways a university, or our university, can help solve hunger, it was hard for me not to become enthralled.dan hartney

Dr. Patricia Dyer and I realized that in order for Widener University to advance our participation and commitment in the hunger solutions conversation we needed to understand each of the unique challenges. The 10th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit, that I was fortunate enough to attend through the Verni grant, was an extremely beneficial first step in the growing process. During this summit, I found myself involved in and inspired by conversations that I did not previously think existed. Individuals from across the globe were talking of the many ideas, projects, and life-changing advancements that they and their respected universities are making in facing global hunger. At this conference, I learned of the many roles that businesses, leaders of academia, local communities, and students are playing in looking for hunger solutions. In conversations with attendees I began to see the many ways I and other Widener students could contribute to this worthy cause. In just a few short days, I became invested in projects that take place as far as Cambodia and as close as Washington, D.C. Upon my return, I shared as much information as I could with my fellow classmates who would also be traveling to Honduras. The class then brainstormed about local projects in Chester and even our mini-farm project in Honduras. Attending this conference also gave me the leadership opportunity to present information about hunger solutions to the Widener University Deans Council, at the request of President Harris. These awesome experiential learning opportunities have given me a new perspective on sustainable impacts that Widener students can make both locally and globally. I am grateful for the support of the Oskin Leadership Institute and I am excited to develop future student action plans that benefit both local and global communities.

Dr. Patricia Dyer and I realized that in order for Widener University to advance our participation and commitment in the hunger solutions conversation we needed to understand each of the unique challenges. The 10th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit, that I was fortunate enough to attend through the Verni grant, was an extremely beneficial first step in the growing process. During this summit, I found myself involved in and inspired by conversations that I did not previously think existed. Individuals from across the globe were talking of the many ideas, projects, and life-changing advancements that they and their respected universities are making in facing global hunger. At this conference, I learned of the many roles that businesses, leaders of academia, local communities, and students are playing in looking for hunger solutions. In conversations with attendees I began to see the many ways I and other Widener students could contribute to this worthy cause. In just a few short days, I became invested in projects that take place as far as Cambodia and as close as Washington, D.C. Upon my return, I shared as much information as I could with my fellow classmates who would also be traveling to Honduras. The class then brainstormed about local projects in Chester and even our mini-farm project in Honduras. Attending this conference also gave me the leadership opportunity to present information about hunger solutions to the Widener University Deans Council, at the request of President Harris. These awesome experiential learning opportunities have given me a new perspective on sustainable impacts that Widener students can make both locally and globally. I am grateful for the support of the Oskin Leadership Institute and I am excited to develop future student action plans that benefit both local and global communities.open quotespost-Widener.

– Ronald Rabena, Oskin Leader

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Experiential learning has advanced my knowledge and confidence as an Oskin Leader profoundly. In order to learn about hydroponic systems and how to grow food crops with less water, time, and environmental impact, I was offered the opportunity to travel to a hydroponic greenhouse and learn from professionals and industry leaders themselves. This experience catapulted the research I had been doing and inspired new, innovative ideas, that have evolved into the core of my project today.dan hartney

A year later, I find myself hundreds of miles from Widener in Rochester, New York, at the annual Futures Summit. The summit was another opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to develop my own network within the hydroponic industry. The highlight was seeking out and meeting Dr. Dickson Despommier, a pioneer in vertical farming research.

I found myself enveloped in a 40-minute conversation that taught me more applicable knowledge than I had learned in the previous month. Finally, I had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation by Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms, a company I truly admire and widely considered a leader in the hydroponics industry. It is because of the these invaluable experiences and the opportunities they create, that I truly believe that experiential learning at the Oskin Leadership Institute is building the foundation of my future, open quotespost-Widener.

– Dan Hartney, Oskin Leader