The Laidlaw Foundation is partnering with Barnard College through Beyond Barnard and the Athena Center for Leadership to offer up to 20 undergraduate students each year access to the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program designed to develop a new generation of leaders committed to evidence-based truths and ethical leadership. 

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda Bell said, 'Laidlaw Scholars at Barnard will work closely with faculty mentors in research and practice directed to solving some of the most pressing problems facing us today in New York City and in the larger world.” She added that the partnership between Barnard and the Laidlaw Foundation, “will challenge students to think creatively about what it means to be a leader and scholar at this unique moment and place.”

The program, which will recruit its inaugural cohort beginning in December, will be open to Barnard first-years and sophomores from all majors. Laidlaw Scholars will complete faculty-mentored independent research on a topic of their design in their first summer in the program. The objective is to develop analytical, investigative, problem solving and data management skills. In their second summer, Scholars advance their leadership skills by either applying their research findings in the real world or working with an external organization partner to support disadvantaged groups. 

Throughout their two-year participation in the program, Laidlaw Scholars will have access to training and opportunities through Beyond Barnard and the Athena Center for Leadership. Central to this experience will be consideration of what it means to become active global citizens and ethical future leaders. The core components of the program teach students to conduct research with impact and develop their leadership potential.

Successful applicants will join a global network of more than 1,000 scholars from Ivy League and Russell Group universities, connecting them to The Laidlaw Scholars Network. This online community allows scholars to showcase their achievements, connect and collaborate with each other on meaningful projects, and ‘pay forward’ their expertise to help others succeed.

“We are tremendously proud to partner with the Laidlaw Foundation in this important program,” said A-J Aronstein, Dean of Beyond Barnard. “Barnard students are scholars and leaders by nature, and this program gives them the opportunity to explore how these identities intersect. It’s a chance to bridge the gap between the classroom and what happens outside it — which happens to be at the core of Beyond Barnard’s work.”

“Since 1889 Barnard has been challenging its undergraduates to stand out and take risks. The purpose of the college is to amplify their students’ power to change the world. This makes them the perfect partner for the Laidlaw Foundation as together we develop the Next Generation of Leaders who will break boundaries and lead with integrity,” said Susanna V. Kempe, CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation. 
The Athena Center for Leadership, led by Umbreen Bhatti ‘00, will play a pivotal role in the leadership development of Laidlaw Scholars at Barnard. “At Athena, we believe that leaders are at their core, problem solvers. We're delighted to partner with the Laidlaw Foundation and provide a framework for Barnard students to explore their own creative, collaborative, and responsible leadership practice alongside rigorous academic research to advance and drive change around the world. These are the leaders our world so desperately needs.”

About Barnard College

Barnard provides a singular educational experience, as a world-renowned college focused on excellence across the arts and sciences, with all the academic resources of Columbia University and the City of New York as an extended classroom. Founded in 1889, Barnard was one of the few colleges in the nation where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the country and remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional. For more information on Barnard College, contact Barnard Media Relations at To learn more, follow Barnard on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

About the Laidlaw Foundation

The Laidlaw Foundation invests in the education of the underprivileged and underrepresented in order to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of leaders. Our funding supports three core programmes: 

  • Sponsoring the Laidlaw Schools Trust – a growing, Multi Academy Trust in the North East of England, providing inspirational education to transform lives,
  • Developing a new generation of diverse leaders who embrace research-based decision making and ethical leadership through our Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research programme at the world’s leading universities and
  • Ensuring more women reach the C-Suite by providing MBA scholarships at London Business School and Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. 

To learn more, follow the Laidlaw Foundation on LinkedIn and Twitter

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