What You Can Expect
Taking place on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, SSFP is an academic intensive, four-week in-residence program. The program operates in a fast-paced environment, where classes and activities are held six days a week. You will take on the full embodiment of a student as the IDB’s SSFPs operate in a “no rank in the classroom” atmosphere. You will have the opportunity to challenge the thoughts of your fellow peers, the world-renowned academics, the speakers that are experienced professionals, but most importantly – you will have the opportunity to challenge yourself. From having discussions at the 30,000-foot level on current U.S. relations with Russia to reading the U.S. Constitution and understanding its interpretation in today’s decision-making processes, you will experience a program like no other.
Complementing the core national security curriculum is the strong emphasis on building each Fellow’s executive skill set. Learning how to tell a story to influence or support your position to negotiating with people who have different interests than you, your executive skill set will hold a solid foundation for you to build upon throughout your career.
In the Classroom
Over the four weeks, you will attend a variety of classes focused on national security, business, and executive skill sets. Some of these classes will be joint interactive sessions, meaning you will be in a classroom with all program attendees and be broken out into smaller groups of 2-5 individuals for exercises. For the other classes, you will be divided into two discussion groups of about 25 students each to allow for dialogue and debate.
On average, classes are three to four hours per day. Certain classes may last up to six hours long, based on the topic and the speaker.
All of our faculty and speakers utilize various learning tools and styles. Professors may lecture on topics to provide the big picture theories to only follow with a hands-on learning activity or they may provide a discussion-based atmosphere for students to discuss amongst themselves and with the professor. Classroom sessions may also feature breakout exercises to examine specific issues more in-depth and then return to present to the entire class.
Outside of the Classroom
When you are not in the classroom, you are connecting the dots through various platforms. You are posting entries on the blog questions posed by the professors. You are working on your team project with your fellow group members. You are in the library reading for the next day’s classes or you are researching components of your team project. You are meeting with the professors to discuss current events or the class topic from an earlier session. You are on phone calls with your team project mentor, a retired general officer or SES, to gain insight on the strategic focus of your project.
Endless Networking Opportunities
With Your Classmates
You have four weeks to get to know your fellow SSFP students. You will be in class with them for about 3 to 7 hours day. You will be working in small groups with them both inside and outside of the classroom. Your fellow peers enrolled in the program will be from all over the U.S. Army and other participating organizations. Your classmates will be from across the occupation specialties – intelligence, logistics, signal, etc. – as will their experiences. You will learn from one other whether it is in debate or discussion, in class or at the library, in a fifteen-minute break during class, or over a sandwich on Franklin Street.
With Academics and Speakers
The SSFP academics and speakers understand the value of this program and the impact it will have on you and your organization as you progress through your career. They are always open to grabbing a cup of coffee with a student to discuss a current event or to meet a group in the library to talk about their team project. Even after graduation, many Fellows stay in touch with the faculty and speakers through the SSFP LinkedIn Group and email.
With Team Project Mentors
From retired Ambassadors to retired Admirals, the team project mentors are well-experienced retired senior national security leaders that have dealt with the critical issues and challenges that face this nation. Throughout the program, the Fellows interact with their team project mentors to not only discuss their project topics but also to discuss their career paths within their organizations and how to positively enact change. As with the faculty and speakers, many Fellows stay in touch with their project mentors after leaving Chapel Hill.
Each year, the IDB invites current senior leaders in their relative fields to speak to the Fellows on how they lead their organizations, how they make critical decisions, and how they manage the risks. In the past offerings of SSFP, the Fellows have had in-depth discussions with the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, a Fortune-500 Company's Chief Risk Officer, an NFL Team's President, and others.