Student Conference 2020


Welcome to 2020 Student Conference: The biennial international event of the World Leading Schools Association! 
Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime?
Do you want to discover the tools to lead with empathy and tenacity?  
Join us in Canada for the WLSA 2020 Student Conference: Leading with Cultural Intelligence, where students will learn the core concepts and skills they need to develop cultural intelligence, so they can thrive on campus and in the workforce in a globalized world. The program features keynote speakers, skill-building activities, local outings, a college fair, and a unique curriculum focused on three key areas: Cultural Knowledge, Cross-Cultural Skills, and Cultural Mindfulness.

6 Continents | 25 Schools | 200 Students


What is Cultural Intelligence?

Cultural Intelligence or CQ is the ability to function effectively in different cultural contexts and it’s more important now than ever before. The affordability of travel and internet access has made the world smaller and yet its inhabitants appear more polarized as reflected in recent global elections, Brexit, trade wars to name a few. Even a well-intentioned social media post can end in a battle between opposing views.
The 2020 WLSA Student Conference will focus on the skills students need to thrive on their diverse campuses and later in the workforce.
Together we’ll focus on three areas that develop CQ for leadership:
  • Cultural Knowledge – In a series of lectures you’ll learn about the indigenous people of North America including their history, norms and current socio-political issues. We’ll carefully identify what is unique about one culture, analyzing why it is unique, and forecasting when and how you could utilize this knowledge in the future.
  • Cross-Cultural Skills – in small groups you’ll work through what it means to be cross-culturally competent by reflecting on the topics shared in the Cultural Knowledge sessions and interacting with students from other parts of the world. Together we’ll work through exercises to develop a basic functional knowledge of cross cultural skills.
  • Cultural Mindfulness - Being culturally mindful means one is aware of the cultural context, consciously analyzes the interactive situation, and plans courses of actions for different cultural contexts. In a series of mental activities starting with one on one peer conversations we’ll spend time reflecting and understanding the difference between a successful and unsuccessful intercultural interaction.
Because of the academic and reflective nature of this program we ask that only serious candidates apply.


Key Information

Dates & Location

The 2020 WLSA Student Conference will take place on the campus of McMaster University,  just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, from 19 - 25 July 2020.


Attendees will stay at the dorms at McMaster University.

Program Components
  • Keynote Speakers
  • CQ Development Sessions
  • Travel in Context: Niagara Falls
  • Outdoor Activities & Gym Access
  • College Fair & Information Sessions
  • Culture Night
Proposals to Speak

Do you want to present on a topic related to the theme of this year's conference, Leading with Cultural Intelligence? See the list of suggested topics and submit a proposal to speak.

CCLP Capstone

The CCLP Capstone is the culmination of CCLP, WLSA's Cross-Cultural Leadership Program. The CCLP Capstone will take place the week before the WLSA 2020 Student Conference at the same location. Learn more about the CCLP Capstone.


2020 WLSA Student Conference: € 800 EUR

CCLP Capstone: € 600 EUR

2020 WLSA Student Conference and CCLP Capstone: € 1300 EUR

Chaperone Guidelines

Are you attending as a chaperone? Don't forget to review the Chaperone Guidelines.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Aligning your company with this conference will win your brand valuable exposure to a mailing list of 4,000+ independent and university level leaders. Download the Sponsorship Brochure to learn more.


For other frequently asked questions please see the FAQs.

About this year's logo design

The logo for this year's Student Conference is inspired by First Nations and Indigenous art. We sought to create a representation that honors without appropriating, but of course it opens the door to critical questions about cultural appropriation. These concepts and ideas will run through the conference program as we learn the core skills for cultural intelligence.


What do you think? Is it appropriate to represent First Nations art for this year's logo?


As all art tends to do, First Nations art spans a wide range of different styles and representational practices not only amongst different nations, but also amongst individuals of the same nation. To learn more about First Nations and Indigenous art visit McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Planned Activities



Take part in the ALTITUDE  (Achieving Leadership Through Integrated Teamwork, Unity, Dedication, and Empowerment) Outdoor Program, a program designed to educate participants about group dynamics, the role and expectations of a leader and how members of a team/group can function most effectively.

Niagara Falls


See one of the world's natural wonders up close. Students will take a day trip to Canada's famous Niagara Falls, where they'll get to see the falls from the sidelines and then take a boat trip to see them up close. 

Culture Night


Get to know your peers on Culture Night as you break off into groups and leaders take turns sharing an element of their culture with their group. Interested in leading a group and sharing your culture? Let us know in your registration form.