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Center for Innovation and Leadership

swattank cil in san fran

Department Overview

Welcome to Swarthmore’s Center for Innovation and Leadership!

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

Engage Innovative Thinking to Foster Student Leadership Practice.

Apply to be a CIL Leadership Fellow

We're actively recruiting our first cohort of CIL Leadership Fellows for next Spring! The Leadership Fellows will work through a 10-week leadership development curriculum prior to competing in the Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC) in April. 

Applications to be a Leadership Fellow are due December 1st. Weekly meetings will tentatively begin on Thursday, January 24th. The competition with CLC will take place on April 12th and 13th. 

Read more about this opportunity on our CIL Leadership Fellows page and apply today to be part of the first cohort!

Read More Here and Apply Today!

October and November Programs

Connect4: Leadership Series

Thursdays | October 25th, November 1st, 8th, and 15th @ 4:30-5:30 pm | Kohlberg 116

Connect4 is a four-part workshop series that connects four different areas of leadership facing today's emerging leaders. Together, we will practice effective communication, balance stressors, and manage conflict in a workshop style setting. Each workshop will be in the same place at the same time, just a week apart.

  • October 25 - What is Leadership
  • November 1 - Communication is Key
  • November 8 - Managing Stress
  • November 15 - Navigating Conflict

Idea Night

Tuesday, October 30th @ 5 - 6:30 pm | Shane Lounge

So, you have an what? Once you have an idea, it can be hard to know what you should do next. Idea Night will walk you through a process of what to do when you first have an idea and teach you how to turn it into something manageable and actionable. Come with an idea or come ready to learn the process!

Find Your Founders

Wednesday, November 7th @ 5 - 6:30 pm | IC Dome

Find Your Founders is the unofficial launch of the 2019 SwatTank Competition. This program will help students meet other peers with similar interests, brainstorm ideas, and establish teams. Learn about the SwatTank process and meet other interested students!

Impact Challenge

Friday, November 30th @ 5-8pm - Saturday, December 1st @ 10-6 | Haverford College

The CIL and Haverford’s Innovation Program are partnering with educators from Malvern Preparatory School  up to host a two day challenge. Over a day and a half, students from Swarthmore and Haverford will be invited to solve real-world problems and present possible solutions that may be implemented in our own backyard using Design Thinking, the Business Model Canvas, and more. Philabundance, an organization fighting to end hunger in the Philadelphia area, has agreed to offer real issues they are facing to present to students to use in their challenge.  

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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