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Student-Led Initiatives

Students in the Trustee Leader Scholar Program (TLS) propose, design, and implement civic engagement projects based on their own passionate interests. TLS projects are local, national, and international, and may be initiated at any point in the college career. The hallmark of TLS is student ownership of the work. Some projects grow into permanent, College-sponsored ventures, including La Voz, an award-winning, Spanish-language magazine; the Bard Prison Initiative; and the Early College in New Orleans.

Featured National Partner

Vermont Harmony Project

Music is a constructive, nonconfrontational way of bridging cultural divides and creating harmony in communities. The Vermont Harmony Project is working to build cross-cultural understanding through music by sharing, preserving, and celebrating the singing traditions of immigrants new to Vermont. Project volunteers interview immigrants about the role music plays in their lives, and organize singing workshops and performances to promote cultural awareness. Volunteers are also creating an audio archive of the vocal traditions and experiences of first-generation immigrants, which will serve as a resource for generations to come.


Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma is the Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College. Professor Buruma is an award-winning journalist and writer who spent much of his early career traveling and reporting from all over Asia. He now writes about a broad range of political and cultural subjects for major publications, including the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and the New York Times.
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Featured Student Project

Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative

The Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative began in 2009, when Bard freshman Mujahed Sarsur decided to bring students to his village in Mas’ha, Palestine to create a children’s camp. The project, a Bard Trustee Leader Scholar Program, centered around community engagement and cultural understanding, now has grown to about 20 members. A decidedly apolitical initiative, the members visit Mas’ha every summer, where they have fostered enduring international relationships.

Click Download for the CCE article by Naomi LaChance. Click More for the BPYI website.

About Student-Led Initiatives

The Trustee Leader Scholar Program, one of Bard's longest-running civic engagement programs, is the College’s undergraduate leadership development initiative. TLS serves as an outstanding model for student-inspired civic engagement, and is deeply rooted in the mission and outreach efforts of Bard College.

At the core of the TLS program is an unwavering belief in each student’s ability to take complete ownership of his or her own work. TLS provides opportunities for motivated students to develop their skills through the design and implementation of diverse projects. At any given time, TLS supports 25 to 30 student-led efforts through leadership workshops, guided reflections, program development, and administrative coordination. These student endeavors promote energetic involvement in campus life and cultivate Bard's relationships with local, national, and international communities.


Click below to view common questions about the TLS program, its participants, and how it works.

Challenges Addressed by the TLS Program

A hallmark of Bard College and the TLS program is the willingness to take risks and make a difference under difficult circumstances. VIEW MORE >>

Campus Support

TLS has broad support at Bard, reflecting the College’s mission to enhance student experience through civic engagement. VIEW MORE >>


Over the years TLS students have built schools in Africa and homes in Nicaragua; run summer camps; led arts workshops in Myanmar; created widely read publications that affect a growing immigrant population; and promoted tolerance in local high schools. VIEW MORE >>

Student-Led Initiatives

  • Astor Home for Children Bard Volunteers
  • Astor Home for Children Theater Group
  • Bard Math Circle
  • Bard Prison Initiative Volunteers
  • Building Up Hudson
  • Community Expressive Arts Project
  • Debate in Schools
  • Germantown College Mentors
  • Germantown Tutoring Program
  • Grace Smith House
  • Hudson Basketball Clinic
  • Hudson Project: Students for Students
  • La Voz
  • Life, Learning, and Language: A Young Rhinebeck Youth Program
  • Merry Time Museum Project
  • Migrant Labor Project
  • New Orleans Project
  • Red Hook English as a Second Language Center
  • The Upbeats: Bard Music Mentoring Program
  • Wappingers Poetry Project
  • Young Naturalists Initiative