Philos Leadership Institute

What is PLI?

The Philos Leadership Institute is our flagship educational program. Each year, we seek out the most promising young Christian leaders in policy, media, and activism on Middle East-related issues. The Leadership Institute is a heavily subsidized, 2-week summer program designed for twenty Christian men and women between the ages of 18-35 who have a serious interest in working in a field that touches on the Middle East. We seek to educate and empower a new generation of leaders in order to facilitate long-term change in the Middle East.

Applications for the 2018 Philos Leadership Institute are now open. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2018. 

We’re looking for future policymakers, humanitarians, journalists, and advocates who seek a deeper understanding of religious and political dynamics in the Middle East region. Exchange of ideas and experiences are at the heart of the PLI program—that’s why we work hard to bring together an ethnically and geographically diverse group of young professionals. The 2017 cohort hailed from Poland, Brazil, Alaska, and across the continental United States. Our 2017 alumni are human rights activists, journalists, development and communications professionals, and students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

When is PLI?

Our 2018 Leadership Institute will take place August 1-15, 2018. 

Submit all application materials below. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Decisions for the 2018 PLI class will be made and announced by March 15, 2018. 

While traveling in the Middle East, I was confronted by a bias I did not know I had. Having the opportunity to meet Palestinian, Arab Israeli, and Iraqi Christians, and see their amazing faith in God even through danger, revealed to me that I had a Western-centric idea of my faith. Of course, I did not believe Jesus’ work was limited to the West. Yet, I unconsciously and arrogantly thought in America we had perfected Christianity. We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, and I was humbled to meet them.

—Peter Burns, PLI 2017 alum


During the program, participants engage in two weeks of lectures, tours, travel, and meetings with Middle Easterners from all ethnicities, religions, and nationalities: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Syrians, Druze, Bedouins, doctors, journalists, politicians, refugees, and many others.

Our programing is intense. Program days begin at 7:30 a.m. and end close to 10 p.m.

Throughout the PLI program, each participant will work to complete an advocacy project. This could include an article or op-ed for publication, the creation of a video, etc. Projects will be assigned at the discretion of the Philos staff, based on proposals from participants.

Alumni of the Philos Leadership Institute have gone on to work as staffers on Capitol Hill, cover Middle East issues as journalists, advocate on national campaign policies, and work for the Philos Project and our partner organizations.

“I am a Roman Catholic who participated in the Philos Project’s month-long ecumenical trip to Israel led by Robert Nicholson… The quality of the participants, speakers, and mentors as well as the creative intentionality of the itinerary are among the aspects that made PLI truly exceptional.

We met with Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian leaders, religious and secular Jews, Israeli settlers and Palestinian refugees, pollsters, military officers, water engineers, feminists, environmentalists, theologians from a plurality of Christian denominations, Bedouins in the Negev, Syrian refugees in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, Iraqi Christians in Amman, Aramean Christians in Jish, kibbutzniks, Arab citizens of Israel, and a professor of Sharia Law. Is there any other organization that provides the opportunity to listen to an Orthodox rabbi settler next to a young Palestinian refugee? Or, a Catholic priest next to a Sharia Law professor? The Protestants visited Catholic churches and listened attentively to priests. The Catholics learned about different theologies of Israel, salvation, etc., etc.. There were countless heated, fruitful, and friendly conversations.

The Philos Project attracts mature participants and, I think, deepens their maturity. The great achievement of the Philos Project is that it is humanizing on all sides. We learned about how category-defying are the people of the Middle East and how much the realities of daily life there resist any stale categorization that would reduce complex narratives to mere textbook abstractions. Having gained a nuanced view in such an engaging manner, this trip has contributed to the formation of my character and sharpening of my conscience. I strongly encourage Catholics to check out the Philos Project.”

—Amanda Achtman, 2017 PLI alumna


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