The Canadian National Leadership Program is a learning program of exceptional power. Its effectiveness results from an extraordinary collaboration between institutions of higher learning and the Canadian armed forces, each delivering a learning component integrated into a student’s normal course load during the academic year.

In the academic learning component, students take a small number of classroom courses every year on various aspects of leadership (e.g. leadership, project management, teambuilding, communication etc.) and leadership-related subjects (e.g. modern history, political institutions, international relations etc.) The selection depends on the roster of courses being offered by each participating institution, on their availability during a particular academic year, and on a student’s personal interests.

In the experiential learning component, students join the military reserves for the duration of their time in the program and participate in officer-cadet training based on the standard officer development model used by armed forces in Britain, Canada, Australia, and the United States. The training is part-time during the academic year, typically on occasional weeknights and weekends, and for three months in the summer. During the training, students develop a range of competencies applicable to any walk of life they choose such as personal organization and time management, resilience, a can-do attitude, critical thinking, planning, problem-solving, teamwork, and team leadership.

There is nothing experimental about such a program.

    • In Britain, the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) has some 4500 students enrolled at over 100 universities including internationally renowned institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of London.
    • In the United States, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) operates at more than 1700 universties, including colleges which had banned “boots on campus” during the Vietnam era such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia
    • Canada has no such program, but it once had university-based officer training of a similar kind at 27 universities and colleges, with over 5000 students enrolled at its peak. Each service had its own version: The Army had the Canadian Officer Training Corps (COTC), the Navy the University Naval Training Division (UNTD), and the Air Force the University Reserve Training Program (URTP). The program was cancelled in 1968 after more than 50 years of operation, for spurious economy reasons having nothing to do with the merits of the program.

The Breakout Educational Network has produced three 50-minute documentary films on the programs in Britain, the United States, and Canada reporting on the benefits.

CNLP Intro    Scale