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APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program

Peter Cowhey, Dean of the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), has committed to sponsor one International Studies Program student to attend the APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program each year. This fellowship will cover round-trip transportation to/from The University of Oregon,Eugene and the conference registration fee.  All transportation arrangements will be made through GPS. 

APRU Vision

As the only network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia and Australasia, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) is the Voice of Knowledge and Innovation for the Asia-Pacific region. We bring together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on effective solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.


Undergraudate Leaders Program - Summer 2019

Application is closed for Summer 2019.  Please check back for Summer 2020 deadline!

The University of Oregon in Eugene will be hosting the 12th APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program from July 1 - July 12, 2019, with the theme: "Fresh Approaches to A Gordian Knot: Untangling the Knot: Pacific Rim Environment, Health and Inequality Challenges"

The APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program (ULP) is a program with 40-60 student leaders from multi-disciplinary fields. Generally focusing on the strengths of the host economy and university, leadership development and current relevant topics across the region, the theme of the program differs from year to year.

For ULP 2019, students from the Pacific Rim will come to the environmentally-focused state of Oregon to apply new thinking to untangle three intertwined social dilemmas: environmental degradation, public health risks and social inequality. Students will work in small teams to address a real-world issue in one of these areas (e.g., environment), while working through how the challenge is entangled with the other two areas (health and social inequality). Representatives from locally-based community organizations working on these issues will develop challenges for the teams and at the end of the program will pick the best student group solutions.

Program activities include theme-related lectures, keynote seminars, workshops, and social and cultural activities which culminate in a final project presentation summarizing their experiences throughout the program. These activities are designed to develop students’ key competencies and leadership skills while providing them with the chance to exchange and interact with other students from the Asia-Pacific region.

Eligibility and Requirements

Application for the 12th APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program is required.  Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Current International Studies major or BA/MIA student
  • Junior/Senior standing
    • Unfortunately this opportunity is not available to graduating seniors. Continuing students must enroll in the following fall quarter to qualify for APRU.
  • Major GPA:  3.5 or higher
    • Major GPA is calculated from upper division major coursework only
  • Cover letter: Please explain your interest in attending APRU Undergraduate Leaders Program and how it will contribute to your professional career goal
  • Resume
  • One letter of recommendation

Application Information and Deadline

ISP application deadline is Monday, March 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm.

Interested applicants must apply through the International Studies Program by submitting a hard copy application to the International Studies Advising office or emailing it to

Note: Students with questions or concerns regarding eligibility should contact the ISP Undergraduate Advisor at

International Studies Student Experiences:

2019: The University of Oregon | Eugene, Oregon

Student: Damin Curtis
Major: International Studies – Political Science - BA/MIA

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders Program, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the School of Global Policy and Strategy. Going into the program, I knew that spending two weeks at the University of Oregon with other leaders, activists, and scholars from all over the Pacific Rim region would allow me to grow as a global citizen as well as a local leader. However, the program would prove to be much more than just an educational opportunity.  Over the course of the program, I developed friendships and memories which would make those two weeks one of the highlights of my undergraduate career.

The program’s schedule was composed of activities and lectures, designed to train the diverse group of 50 participants on topics such as ideation, project evaluation, and team facilitation, all with an overall focus on social and environmental justice impact. What made the program truly special, however, was the diversity of perspectives that were brought to the table and the friendships that formed during the cultural experiences arranged between workshops. While these “cultural experiences” were meant to introduce American culture to my new non-American friends, I found that experiencing the United States alongside first-time visitors put my home country in a new perspective. One of the most memorable moments for me was attending a baseball game on the 4th of July and explaining the game to students from Russia who had never watched a baseball game before. That night, I was delighted to learn that baseball is extremely popular in Japan when I found myself cheering for the home team next to an equally enthusiastic Japanese student who knew the game better than I did. Later that week, when the entire cohort attended a beginner’s salsa class and dance social, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Latin dance isn’t only popular in the Americas-- the star salsera of the night was a girl who had learned both salsa & bachata at social dances in her home country of Singapore. Such experiences allowed me to view my home culture from a fresh perspective, as well as to learn about the home cultures of students from around the Pacific Rim.

Of course, the program consisted of much more than dancing and watching baseball. The APRU Undergraduate Leadership Program taught me valuable skills and gave me insights into how I can make changes in my own community regarding the issues that matter most: protecting the environment, empowering the marginalized, and improving public health. I truly believe that the durable skills taught at the program will allow me-- and my newly connected international cohort-- to be more active and effective citizens in our home communities and abroad. The memories and friendships forged through the APRU program last far beyond the program itself, and I am extremely thankful to the School of Global Policy and Strategy, and its Dean, Peter Cowhey, for allowing me the opportunity to represent UCSD at the ULP, and for all of the experiences I have gained in doing so. For any students considering applying to future APRU programs, my advice is to DO IT! The skills and experience you will gain are invaluable, and the memories and friendships you will form have the potential to last a lifetime.

2018: The University of Sydney | Sydney, Australia

Student: Bailey Marsheck
Major: International Studies – Economics

Serving as UCSD’s delegate to the 2018 Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program in Sydney, Australia was doubtlessly one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my time at UCSD. Now in its 11th year, APRU’s 10-day program is designed to facilitate dialogue among passionate, change-oriented students who would otherwise likely never end up in the same room. It also serves to reflect the unique characteristics of its host city, set this year on the University of Sydney’s stunning campus. This year’s theme was “Leadership for Good,” placing an emphasis on incorporating strong social goals into developmental practices. The program included a specific focus on Australia’s  policies towards its large Aboriginal population.

The diverse group of 50 participants was invited to challenge its world views and innate cultural biases through a series of lectures, seminars, and activities. These latter reflected the vast range of disciplines of the participants, spanning from equitable design principles to entrepreneurship and planetary health. I was one of three Americans in this year’s program, and the only American male. While cultural views sometimes differed strongly, everyone was eager to share their  perspectives and develop deeper cultural competences. What struck me most wasn’t the diverse set of solutions to world problems presented by the participants, but rather the region-specific challenges of which I had no previous knowledge. Intertwined with our class schedule were educational trips to Taronga Zoo, Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, to learn about Aboriginal practices, and free time at night or on the weekend to explore Sydney (and watch the World Cup Final, of course).

The week culminated in a poster presentation contest. We were split into groups and tasked with proposing solutions to a problem within the Asia-Pacific in front of University of Sydney professors and our fellow participants. Working closely with my team members, representing schools in Mexico, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Australia, was a fascinating experience since their education and ideas differed from mine. The diversity inspired solutions I couldn’t envision on my own. Our work targeting obesity-related health problems in the Pacific Islands felt even more worthwhile when our poster was honored by our peers at the program’s close. 

I cannot begin to thank UCSD and GPS Dean Peter Cowhey enough for the opportunity to represent our university and meet like-minded individuals from all over the Asia-Pacific, where my career interests lie. The program also imparted to me a greater awareness of America’s own indigenous communities, some of which are based in San Diego County but don’t receive enough attention or support. I hope that other UCSD students will apply for future APRU programs or other similarly underutilized resources, as I can think of few negative aspects to my experience. The worst part was probably leaving with many more travel plans and friends to visit than when I first arrived in Sydney.

2017: Far Eastern Federal University | Vladivostok, Russia

Student: Cassidy Shapiro
Major: International Studies – Political Science

Attending the 10th annual APRU ULP this past July was an incredible opportunity that I am honored to have participated in. The program, which took place at the Far Eastern Federal University in the city of Vladivostok, Russia, was titled “Global Challenges for New Generations in the Asia-Pacific Region” with a core focus on the second generation of global sustainability goals. Through various seminars, lectures, and guided activities, we studied the concept of sustainability in the global context in depth.  The program brought together students from around the globe with varying backgrounds and areas of expertise, which allowed for the development of constructive, dynamic, and innovative methods to solve global challenges such as poverty, sustainable consumption, and climate change. We were also given the opportunity to experience Russian culture through a guided tour of Vladivostok, cultural activities such as matryoshka painting, and a cooking class where me made pelmeni (Russian dumplings) from scratch. Upon completion of the program, we presented cross-culturally viable sustainability projects in groups to FEFU students and faculty.

Without a doubt, the most valuable part of attending this program was the experience of working with other students with numerous cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, and languages. While the other students and I had many differences, they felt insignificant compared to what we had in common—a passion for collaboration, a desire to develop diplomatic skills, and an eagerness to challenge global problems despite their magnitude. Above all, I was struck by the kindness of the other students and the absence of barriers not only in program activities, but also in developing friendships. I have no doubt that I will remain friends with several of the people I met during this program.

The two weeks I spent in Russia have truly impacted me and shown me just how important a program like ISP is in today’s world. To tackle the most pressing challenges we face, global collaboration is a necessity and cannot be undervalued. The knowledge I gained and the various ways in which I have grown through participating in this program have validated all that ISP has taught me, supplemented my academic education with practical experience, and enlarged my understanding of internationally based work. I would like to thank ISP and GPS for sponsoring my participation in this program and for providing me the honor of representing our university. If you are a student in ISP, I highly encourage you to apply for future opportunities like APRU.

Check out photos from the 2017 Undergraduate Leaders' Program in Russia!

2016: Tecnológico de Monterrey | Puebla, Mexico

Student: Clara Bird
Major: International Studies - Political Science

This July I had the honor of representing UCSD at the 9th annual APRU Undergraduate Leadership Program, "INSPIRE: Next Generation of Innovators".  The program was hosted at Tecnológico de Monterrey in the beautiful city of Puebla, México. Sixty-three students participated from eleven Pacific-Rim nations including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. We attended lectures on business development, innovation/design thinking, and presentation methods as well as local art, culture, and history. We worked in teams to promote local welfare through the development of business, products, service, and experiential designs.  We also explored cultural landmarks in Puebla, nearby Cholula, and México City. Several highlights include the Teotihuacán pyramids, Museo de Antropología, and Catedral Metropolitana.  We concluded the program by presenting our solutions for improving social welfare to the students and faculty of the APRU program as well as local business leaders, investors, and government officials.

This program is easily one of the most spectacular experiences of my entire academic education. I learned an enormous amount about innovation, business development, and Mexican culture and politics. I also learned a lot about the other nations that were represented in the program. The aspect that I cherish the most about this program, however, are the friendships that I gained. This program provided an opportunity to really get to know people from all over the world. I am already devising plans to visit several of them next summer. This was truly an unforgettable experience and it has inspired me to consider opportunities that, before the start of the program, I had not given serious attention to.

I want to thank the International Studies Program and the School of Global Policy and Strategy for sponsoring this experience.  I highly encourage all students majoring in International Studies to apply for the program!

2015: University of Malaya | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Student: John Chisholm
Major: International Studies - Political Science

This August, I had the opportunity to represent UCSD at the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) 8th Annual Undergraduate Summer Program (USP).  The theme of the program was: Developing Future Global Leaders of the Pacific Rim—The Different Facets of Leadership.  APRU is an organization comprised of leading universities from around the Pacific Rim, founded in order to advance cooperation and cultural exchanges between academic institutions along the Pacific Rim.  The conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and brought together over 50 participants from APRU universities.  My two weeks in Malaysia were a blend of workshops on leadership practices, lectures by leaders in global NGOs, businesses and development funds, and concluded with group leadership presentations by USP students.  Our program  incorporated classes in  traditional Malaysian dance and music, and, believe me, our group of delegates quickly became close friends as we stumbled through our dance steps. At the end of our program, we toured the rapidly modernizing and architecturally vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, and had the opportunity to see how many Malaysians live in a two-day homestay in the historic city of Malacca.

The most important aspect of the APRU USP for me was the opportunity to build a global network among the inspiring and passionate students I met in my program.  A National University of Singapore student shared with me that his curriculum, South East Asian Studies, requires him to study at a different South East Asian university every semester, allowing him to constantly engage other cultures and perspectives in and outside of the classroom.  Another student runs a (very popular) “Humans of Thailand” Facebook page, curating the experiences and perspectives of Thai university students.  One of my group presentation members from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey has already begun development on a mobile app that connects blood donors to blood banks across Mexico.  Having the opportunity to connect with these types of future leaders from around the world, so early on as an undergraduate student, is an opportunity unique to the APRU USP.

My time in Malaysia underlined  for me the importance of a global perspective for our next generation of leaders.  The world will only become more global, and being able to navigate the variety of cultures, perspectives and points of view in this emerging world is essential to leading in any capacity after graduation.  For IS majors, having the opportunity to ground coursework in practical experiences, such as APRU USP, is especially vital for understanding how complex and interconnected the issues our world faces really are.  I am grateful for this opportunity and I would like to thank the International Studies Program and School of Global Policy and Strategy for sponsoring my APRU experience.  I highly encourage all ISP students to apply for the next APRU USP in Monterrey, Mexico. 

2014: Nanjing University | China

Student: Angela Luh
Major: International Studies - Political Science

This summer, I attended the 7th annual Undergraduate Summer Program hosted by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), an organization that gathers academic institutions from the West Coast, like UCSD, and Asia to further educational, political, and economics cooperation. The conference was held at Nanjing University in China with about 40 participants.  Our daily schedule included lectures given by visiting faculty members of APRU, round-table discussions, and collaboration opportunities with other students. The last two days were dedicated to exploring the vibrant (and very hot) city of Nanjing and its rich history, preserved even in the face of increasing modernization.

Among the many things I gained from the program, the most significant was simply learning from the narratives of different students. A University of Tokyo senior shared that he expected 9 am-to-12 am work days post graduation.  My groupmate from National Taiwan University shared that Taiwan's declining economy impacted its educational system, causing an outflow of professors, and consequently students. Major Chinese universities are becoming more progressive with the inclusion of religious and LGBT student organizations, according to my Nanjing University roommate.

Gaining a broader perspective on social and cultural differences and developments in the world is an essential part of being an IS major. Knowledge of other countries' standards and how the United States could improve will benefit every IS-related career and life in general. I want to extend my appreciation to ISP and IR/PS for this great and memorable opportunity and would highly encourage students to apply to similar programs in the future.