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    George W. Bush Institute

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Liberty and Leadership Application INFORMATION

In a major policy address, President George W. Bush once said, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Our goal…is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.” Liberty and Leadership is an innovative educational and training program that equips participants, called “scholars,” with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition.

Applications are currently closed.  Please sign up for the Bush Center newsletter to receive future application updates.


Application Process, Program Details, and Logistics

Program Model

Liberty and Leadership is a seven-month leadership program for Burmese rising leaders. Participants, known as scholars, travel within Burma (Myanmar), as well as to the United States, for intensive classroom study and site visits that demonstrate the practical application of learned concepts. These experiences are aimed at developing foundational leadership skills utilized by successful leaders across sectors while exploring principles of democracy and a free market economy that are critical to a transitioning country’s success. Throughout the program, participants will engage with inspirational leaders and distinguished experts from the domestic nonprofit, international NGO, public, private, academic, and other sectors.

Who We Are Looking For

Liberty and Leadership targets Burmese leaders for this program who share certain personal characteristics:

  • Demonstrated Leadership and Commitment to Advancing Democracy – Participants are committed to building on their established record of meaningful leadership to advance democracy in their communities and do not see this program as an introductory course on leadership.
  • Socially-Minded – Participants are service-oriented and passionate about the actions they take to advance democracy in their communities.
  • Eager to Receive Feedback – Participants willingly seek, humbly accept, and actively respond to feedback about their performance.
  • Accepting of Diverse Points of View – Participants welcome opportunities to interact with and learn from others with different backgrounds or perspectives.
  • Experienced Professionals – Participants are accomplished professionals who have a breadth and depth of professional experience. Though quality is not easily measured in time, the majority of participants have professional experience that is outcome-oriented and are at a point in their careers where their participation will be felt for many years to come.
  • In Positions of Influence – Participants are expected to take action and make change in their communities or organizations.
  • Committed to the Program – The program is rigorous and intense. Over the course of the seven-month program, participants are required to commit to approximately 28 days of international travel. To qualify for consideration, applicants must be citizens or legal residents living and working in Burma (Myanmar).


2019-2020 Schedule

For selection to this program, all participants are expected to attend and fully participate for the entirety of each of the three below modules.

Module One: Orientation Seminar
August 2019 (1 week) in Myanmar

Module Two: United States Seminar
October/November 2019 (4 weeks) in the United States

Module Three: Capstone and Graduation
February 2020 (1 week) in Myanmar

Personal Leadership Projects

You are required to have a Personal Leadership Project (PLP) that you will work on throughout the program. This project may represent the next step in an initiative on which you are already working, or the first step in a new project. The project should provide you with the opportunity to apply the skills and competencies learned throughout the program and have a direct impact on citizens’ lives. We expect you to begin the program having adequately thought through many of the important elements required to achieve a significant outcome by the end of the program. An appropriate PLP will:

  • Represent an Initiative that Will Advance Democracy – A PLP can focus on an existing or a new initiative in which the participant is involved that advances democracy for all in their community and/or country. For example, PLPs may be specific projects that seek to promote civic engagement, advance ethnic rights, support a free market economy, improve the legal environment, or other concrete ways to advance democracy.
  • Focus on a Tangible Result – PLPs should have an achievable, short-term outcome by the end of the program. Medium- and long-term outcomes are also expected, but the achievement of those outcomes is not expected within the program’s timeframe.
  • Leverage Participant’s Existing Knowledge and Experience – Participants must demonstrate they have established momentum and the foundational knowledge/experience to achieve the project’s outcomes.
  • Require Increased Personal Performance – Participants should be able to articulate how the achievement of the PLP’s outcomes will be significantly enhanced by his/her participation in the program. 

Program Cost

The Bush Institute is committed to ensuring that leaders from around the world can participate in this program at no cost.  Tuition, housing, meals, and travel during the modules are fully-funded by generous contributions from program partners and funders. 

How to Apply

Applications are currently closed.

Application Process

To be considered for this program, all applicants must submit a completed application, a copy of their passport photo page, an updated resume/CV, essay responses, including an outline of a Personal Leadership Project that will be started/continued during the program, and two letters of recommendation.

Candidates will be assessed by their application submission, recommendations, and essays.  After review, select candidates will then be invited to participate in final interviews that will take place in Burma (Myanmar).  Interviews will be conducted in March 2019 and final acceptance notifications will be distributed by the end of April 2019. If accepted and you return all requested forms, you will then begin the United States visa process for Module Two. Your participation in Liberty and Leadership will be contingent upon you receiving your United States visa prior to Module One, a process through which we will guide you and pay for.



Q: How often will I be required to travel and how many days of work will I miss?

A: Liberty and Leadership requires a seven-month commitment that includes three program sessions. During that time, participants will meet for a one-week opening session in Burma (Myanmar), followed by a four-week trip to the United States, and concluding with a one-week capstone and graduation experience in Burma. Please note that some participants may need to travel the day before a module begins to arrive in time for the start of the session. Liberty and Leadership is designed so that participants can remain in their jobs while in the program, but we encourage you to discuss the opportunity with your employer and ensure their support for the schedule that is required of accepted participants. 

Q: I have a conflict with one of the scheduled module dates. Can I still participate?

A: Participants are expected to participate in all scheduled program events in their entirety throughout the duration of the seven-month program.


Q: Is there an application fee?

A: No.

Q: What is the cost to attend?

A: The Bush Institute is committed to ensuring that leaders can participate in this program at no cost through generous contributions from program partners and funders. Tuition, housing, meals, visa application fees, and travel during the modules are fully-funded, including a stipend that is provided to participants upon arrival.

Q: Are there travel costs that are not covered?

A: Participants’ meals outside of the session (while traveling, before or after the session, etc.) and any personal travel before or after the program are not covered. Travel before the program to participate in interview-related activities is also not covered.

Program Details

Q: Can I receive college credit hours?

A: This leadership development program does not qualify for college credit.

Q: Is this an accredited program?

A: This program is for leadership development and is not overseen by an accrediting body.

Q: What commitments are expected of alumni?

A: Alumni are expected to remain involved in the program, including recruiting and mentoring new participants, sharing leadership experiences with new classes, and participating in follow-up interviews and surveys to measure program outcomes. Alumni will also be encouraged to stay connected with each other, and provide valued support to the projects and initiatives pursued after their time in the program concludes.

Q: How large is the alumni network?

A: Liberty and Leadership has graduated three cohorts of participants, called “scholars,” since 2014, for a total of 56 alumni. Journalists, doctors, civil society leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs, and politicians, the work of our alumni base is an incredible asset to future participants.

Q: I’m interested in the program but can’t attend this year. How can I receive information about the program in the future?

A: Email [email protected] to sign up for updates.


Q: Is there an age minimum or maximum for participants?

A: While there is no minimum or maximum age, participants are expected to be at a point in their careers where their participation in Liberty and Leadership will allow them to put new knowledge and skills into practice for many years to come.

Q: Am I eligible to participate if I do not speak English fluently?

A: No. At this time, all aspects of the program are conducted in English, and thus participants are required to be fluent.

Q: I live overseas but I’m a citizen of Burma. Am I still eligible to participate?

A: No, participants must be working and living in Burma (Myanmar).

Q: What if I am denied a United States visa for Module Two?

A: Participation in our program is contingent upon you receiving a United States visa, as you will be ineligible for graduation if you do not take part in all three sessions of Liberty and Leadership.

Q: Is a college degree necessary to qualify for consideration?

A: No, but participants are expected to be at a point in their careers where their participation in Liberty and Leadership will allow them to put new knowledge and skills into practice for many years to come.


Q: Can I nominate a participant for consideration?

A: Applications are open to anyone.  While nominations are not accepted, please share information of the program with candidates you believe are well-qualified. If someone referred you, you can share their name in the How did you hear about us portion of the application.