The Churchill Institute is the hub of all international and leader development activity at Westminster College. As such, the Institute serves as a bridge between the College and the Churchill Memorial. The Institute simultaneously projects the Westminster experience beyond, and brings the wider world to, Central Missouri in a unique and dynamic fashion. Building on the inspiration of the past and on the leadership qualities of Churchill himself, the Institute weaves together international education and leadership development. In essence, the Institute provides both the intellectual substance and real world experience to carry out the Westminster mission of creating leaders in a global community.
Sir Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” address on the Westminster campus warned of the impending Cold War and prompted the global community to reconsider the apparent certainties of the post-war world. Churchill’s visit was followed by a host of other international leaders, each delivering a message that challenged the audience to think about problems and issues from a new perspective. The speakers who have come to Westminster’s campus are emblematic of the international perspective long a hallmark of the College. They also indicate Westminster’s continued role in engaging the most pressing, salient questions of today and tomorrow.
At the Churchill Institute, Westminster students learn about the complexities of the wider world and how, in our interwoven global community, local actions have instantaneous, international ramifications. At the National Churchill Museum, part of the Churchill Institute, the lessons of perseverance and of courage, and the necessity for leaders to have a breadth of vision and experience, all come to life in an inspirational fashion. These valuable historical perspectives mesh seamlessly with all facets of the Center for Engaging the World. The Center promotes international education for all students, through such programs as the Transnational Studies major, cross-cultural experiences on campus, and both study abroad and overseas internship opportunities. While students digest the myriad theoretical aspects of an international education, they are encouraged to do far more. At the Churchill Institute, they are given the opportunity to test their ideas and challenge their preconceptions through daily interaction with international students and faculty within a vibrant intellectual atmosphere fostered by a distinguished list of guest lecturers, world leaders, and visitors to campus. While these individuals may differ markedly from the world view that Churchill offered in 1946, what they do share with Churchill is a willingness to think in new and audacious ways. Working in conjunction with the goals of the Center for Engaging the World is the Bill Emerson Center for Leadership and Service, which offers practical application of their international education through extensive leadership education and training coupled with both local and international service experiences. It is the blending of inspiration, education, and leadership that is the essence of the Churchill Institute.