Twelve young Argentine political and social leaders took part in a recent global leadership seminar at the University of Notre Dame intended foster dialogue across party lines in the South American nation.  

The third annual School of Political Leadership seminar, held April 4-6, was cosponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI). The program is part of the Center for Research and Social Action (CIAS), a Jesuit nonprofit in Buenos Aires.

The trip is the culmination of a yearlong program in which fellows take classes in subjects ranging from political economy to ethics in leadership. Competition to land a slot in CIAS is intense, and only a handful of its top participants are invited to travel to the US.

“These leaders are growing their careers, and we know they’ll continue to develop and have a positive impact on their country, and that their advocacy for robust democratic governance will continue to grow,” said Kellogg Faculty Fellow Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC (political science), who helped organize the visit.

The program bridges the Kellogg Institute’s mission of linking research with practice.

“It’s meant to expose them to the resources and expertise the institute and university have to offer, and acquaint them with US and global politics to put the Argentine context in perspective,” said Sharon Schierling, the Kellogg Institute’s managing director. “This exposure to some of our most outstanding faculty is an important touch point for them.”

CIAS director and former Visiting Fellow Rodrigo Zarazaga, SJ, started the program.

“Argentina has long possessed the potential to become a prosperous nation and a leader within Latin America,” he has said. “However, this potential has so far gone unfulfilled, due primarily to the lack of capable, ethical leadership and low-quality political institutions.”

This year’s fellows, all in their twenties and thirties, included a journalist, several lawyers, a teacher, and advisors and directors of several government agencies.

During their stay, they met with Kellogg Institute faculty and staff and attended lectures on topics including “Political Leadership in Challenging Times: Making Democracy Work,” delivered by Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Michael Coppedge (political science), a principal investigator with the Varieties of Democracy project.

Rev. Daniel Groody, CSC, director of Kellogg’s Global Leadership Program, spoke on migration and ethical leadership.

They also met with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to discuss partnerships between local government and Notre Dame. IEI sponsored a side trip to Chicago, where they toured the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and met with officials to learn about the legislative landscape in Illinois.

Schierling said the program highlights the institute’s deep roots in Latin America and its commitment to furthering democracy. It also gives Kellogg a chance to deepen its collaboration with CIAS and hear participants’ stories.

“We want to listen to them and learn from their experiences,” she added.