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Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship Program

Laidlaw Scholars Pose for a Photo

Application Deadline: January 24, 2022

The Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship Program promotes ethical leadership and international research around the world—starting with the passionate leaders and learners found on campuses like Cornell.

With generous support for your research, leadership training, and a summer putting leadership into action, this twenty-month program for emerging leaders lays out a path for you to invest your skills, knowledge, and experience to help others. As a Laidlaw Scholar, your talent and motivation are cultivated through research, leadership training and experiences, and networking with like-minded peers.

In two years, Laidlaw Scholars become skilled researchers, embrace data-based decision-making, and learn to lead with integrity. Hear how Laidlaw Scholars across the globe have benefited from the program.

We are pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of Laidlaw Scholars, a group of 24 students who come from every corner of the university.


Want to join our next cohort? Find application information below. You can also contact our Laidlaw coordinator, Kristin Ramsay, with any questions. 

The Program's Key Components


You will spend your first summer as a Laidlaw Scholar working on an internationally-focused research project that is supervised by an academic supervisor or an experienced research team. Your faculty advisor or supervisor will need to provide one of your application recommendation letters.

The Laidlaw program supports you with a weekly stipend while you develop skills of analysis, investigative study, problem-solving, and data management. Your research may be:

  1. An individual project: Choose your own project. You are free to identify whatever work interests you, and select a faculty mentor to work with one-on-one.
  2. A pre-existing project: Many faculty members are already looking for undergraduate research assistants to join exciting projects across fields. Contact a Cornell faculty member from our list of projects to see if you would be a good fit, or identify research projects and faculty from other Laidlaw schools who you can also work with.
  3. A Laidlaw central project: You will be joining an international network of partners as Laidlaw Scholar, and many are eager to work with you. Explore the list of potential projects to see which you may be eligible to join. 

If you are interested in working with a faculty member outside of Cornell or on a central Laidlaw project, you will need to discuss this with the Laidlaw coordinator before applying.

Leadership Training

Leadership training is an essential component of the program. All Laidlaw Scholars will engage in leadership development that continues throughout their time in the program, learning core leadership values and skills that prioritize collective action and the practice of critical reflection. This programming will be led by the Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.

You will earn a certificate in engaged leadership and participate in ongoing opportunities for development throughout your two years, developing problem-solving and communication skills that benefit you long past your time in the program.

Leadership-in-Action Experience

Spend your second summer abroad, putting your knowledge to use in the real world. You will be able to choose from a variety of options:

  1. Leadership expedition: A leadership-intensive organized program that you select from our approved list. You will experience a new and challenging environment outside of the U.S. alongside a group of Laidlaw Scholars from other universities. 
  2. Community-engaged leadership: A leadership placement with a nonprofit, community organization, or social enterprise that takes you outside of your comfort zone. In this placement, you may build on your research project, plan and implement strategy, and engage with others in leading meaningful change. It can be local or in the U.S., but must be in a disadvantaged community. 
  3. In-field application of research: An application of your research in the real world that aims to create positive change while developing your leadership skills. In addition to being outside of your comfort zone, you will need to provide clearly defined objectives and impacts of your work which will be beneficial to society.

These skills are directly transferable to future work across disciplines, while also introducing you to different life experiences and expanding your perspective.


Over your two years in the program, you will get to know like-minded scholars who are passionate about Laidlaw's shared values. The international network of Laidlaw Scholars extends beyond Cornell University to a global community that shares an online space for continued collaboration. 


Summer 1: Up to $3,750 stipend while you conduct full-time research.

Summer 2: Program fees or stipend while you engage in a leadership-in-action experience. Additional support is available for travel or research-related expenses.  


First- and second-year students from any college or major may apply. We are looking for students and projects with an international focus. You should have a strong academic background and must be able to commit to full participation in the program. U.S. citizenship is not required. 

In order to be eligible for program funding, scholars must commit to all components of the program. Upon acceptance, you will be required to sign a commitment form. These expectations and important upcoming dates are outlined below.

Participant Expectations

  1. Attend and fully participate in all leadership development activities/training/events. (These may be remote due to COVID.)
  2. Engage in faculty-mentored research for five to six consecutive weeks during the first summer.
  3. Engage in an immersive leadership experience for five to six consecutive weeks during the second summer.
  4. Present your research during the fall research symposium.
  5. Write a report, or produce a short video on your overall learning and leadership outcomes at the conclusion of the second summer.
  6. Serve as a mentor to new scholars and as an ambassador of Cornell's Laidlaw program.
  7. Be an active member of the Laidlaw Scholars Network while a scholar, and keep the central Laidlaw Program informed of career developments as an alum.

Important Dates for 2021–2022 


  • April 1: Laidlaw Scholars welcome and launch, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
  • April 10: Leadership retreat
  • April 14, 30: IDP and coaching
  • May 8: Leadership retreat
  • May 26: Research Scaffolding Workshop, 2 to 5 p.m.
  • June, July, and August: Research dates are flexible, but must be full time over consecutive weeks
  • July 15: Mid-summer reflection due
  • August 24: Research communication, 2 to 4:30 p.m.
  • August 30: Post-summer reflection due
  • September 15 to October 27: Capstone dialogue
  • November 4: Research symposium, 5 p.m.


  • February: Preparation for international field engagement, exact details to be determined
  • June, July, and August: Leadership-in-action experience dates are flexible, but must be full time over a consecutive period of six weeks
  • November: Leadership celebration and presentations, exact details to be determined

How to Apply

Fill out the online application at the link below. Students who are selected to become Laidlaw Scholars are notified in April.

Documents to Submit with Your Application

  • Resume/CV
  • Personal leadership statement
  • Transcript (can be unofficial)
  • Proposed research plan
  • References who can submit letters of recommendation
    • One should be your proposed faculty mentor who has agreed to work with you, and one will be a reference of your choosing.

Contact our Laidlaw coordinator, Kristin Ramsay, with any questions. 

Additional Information

Funding Type

  • Scholarship


  • Student