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Center for Innovation and Leadership

swattank cil in san fran

Department Overview

Welcome to The Center for Innovation and Leadership at Swarthmore College!

Leadership in the 21st century demands vision and a sense of purpose, cross-cultural fluency, creative thinking, innovation, and flexibility. The Center for Innovation and Leadership (CIL) provides opportunities for Swarthmore students to develop the abilities to lead and inspire, to listen and learn in ways that meet the challenges of our time, and to reflect the values of our community. Thus the CIL will not only promote leadership but also ethical leadership and not only creativity but also creativity invested in the public good.

The CIL strives to give all Swarthmore students the individualized support they need to become strong imaginative leaders of tomorrow. We support students by creating opportunities to hone their leadership skills in capacities like team-based collaboration, the development of social and cultural capital, and inventive thinking processes. Students, staff, and faculty are all welcome to bring forth new and interesting ideas under the umbrella of the CIL. 

Mission Statement

The CIL cultivates co-curricular opportunities at the intersection of leadership, entrepreneurship, and management for students to develop into creative, adaptable, ethical individuals.  


Spring 2019 Programs

Tri-Co Hackathon - February 8th & 9th

The Tri-Co Hackathon aims to bring teams of students from Haverford, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr together in collaborative learning through engagement with digital technology and programming. On Friday, students will meet and discuss interests and project ideas around proposed themes to form teams of 2-5 people. Teams work together on a prototype until 6 pm on Saturday evening when they will present their work to a panel of judges for a chance to win prizes. 

Womxn's Leadership Summit - March 23rd

An empowering day dedicated to embracing inclusive leadership, connecting with other Swarthmore womxn, and learning to lead and love with confidence. The day will include a variety of sessions and panels exploring womxn's unapologetic bravery in defining and navigating their own womxnhood, space, and growth. Look forward to powerful speakers and a space to connect with others throughout the day.

Sponsored by: The Swarthmore Womxn's Leadership Summit Planning Committee, The Center for Innovation and Leadership, Office of the President, The Lang Center, Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, The Intercultural Center, and the Women's Resource Center. Website:

SwatTank Finals - April 5th

Swat Tank, an idea competition, focuses on an inclusive model, one that provides students with the opportunity to take a rough idea, product, or concept and develop it towards its next incarnation, ideation, or realization. The process will culminate at the SwatTank Innovation Competition. Student teams are coached and advised by Swarthmore alumni and currents staff and faculty.

Sponsored by: The Center for Innovation and Leadership, The Social Innovation Lab, and Career Services

Senior Showcase - April 18th

The Senior Showcase provides a space where the Swarthmore community comes together to learn from senior projects from across all three divisions. Participating students each have three minutes and one slide to present their work. Why only three minutes when our students could spend hours sharing the details of their projects? The answer is most people will not take more than three minutes to listen and understand a student's work; therefore, students need to learn both how to distill their work into a three-minute sound bite and also how to explain their work to a more general audience. Three minutes also allows for more participation from interested seniors.

Sponsored by: The Center for Innovation and Leadership and the Writing Center and Speaking Associates Program

Rachel Simmons discusses how to fail successfully at her Failure Workshop hosted by the CIL in September. Read more about the workshop here...

Rachel Simmons discusses how to fail successfully at her Failure Workshop hosted by the CIL in September. Read more about the workshop here...

The CIL took 11 students to California for a week of experiential learning on the CIL @SF trip! More here...


SwatTank 2017 finalists

The finalists of the 2017 SwatTank Innovation Competition answer questions about their business pitches.


Students have the opportunity to learn, develop, and build skills through LINK workshops throughout the academic year.

The winning team of SwatTank 2016, Sedinam Worlanyo ‘17 (left) and Bolutife Fakoya ‘17, founded a company that produces artisanal backpacks from Africa, each made with a unique design and meaning. More here...

Rachel Simmons discusses how to fail successfully at her Failure Workshop hosted by the CIL in September. Read more about the workshop here...

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