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Annual Program

Each module's month begins with a reading week, followed by two weeks of virtual seminars and guest speakers, and concludes with a week of independent writing and journaling.

First Semester

Program Launch and Orientation
Blacksburg, Virginia


During this two-day, two-night retreat set on Virginia Tech’s campus nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, fellows from around the world will have a chance to meet one another, get to know faculty and hear from some of the world’s leading advocates of the humanities in technology.

October Seminar 
“The Humanities and a Higher Leadership”

Instructor: Professor Rishi Jaitly and Distinguished Advisor Tim Kircher

How has society’s sense of what makes a good leader evolved over time and place? What role have the liberal arts played in shaping leaders we admire across contexts and communities? And what role might the humanities play in advancing a higher form of leadership in our era’s technology landscape? This seminar will consist of a review of leadership as it has been understood, cultivated and practiced over time - and will feature contemporary case studies and guest speakers from the technology industry.

November Seminar 
“Scriptures and Sacred Narratives”

Instructor: Professor Sylvester Johnson

This module explores classic and contemporary themes of human culture and ruminations of the sacred and mundane through traditions of scripture and narrative across the globe. The module selects texts and traditions that communities have found inspiring and generative in complex ways. We will examine such timeless themes as personhood, saviors/messiahs, origin stories, societal factors, and traditions about bodies and spirits.

December Independent Paper 


Drawing on the texts and tales we studied and shared discussion around in our first semester together, select an artifact, episode or story - or several - from one or both of our modules that particularly enthralled you with awe and wonder. Reflect on the nature of human leadership that was revealed and/or illuminated in your selected context(s). And using the skills and sensibilities that emanate from the humanities as a guidepost - namely, introspection and imagination, storytelling and story listening, critical thinking and connecting the dots - express and develop a written work regarding the qualities of leadership, and/or the questions about leadership, that surfaced in your selected story/stories. Then, make an inspired argument for what a higher kind of human stewardship ought to entail with an eye on what from the distant past echoes in your - and our - world today.

Second Semester

Fellow Excursion
Miami, Florida


During this two-day, two-night retreat set in an inspired city known for its commitment to the arts, fellows from around the world will have a chance to grow their relationships with one another, meet with local leaders and leave inspired by the role the humanities play in cultivating place-based leadership.

February Seminar 
“Stories Make the World Go 'Round”

Instructor: Matthew Vollmer

The philosopher Walter Benjamin famously claimed that “All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one.” If that’s true, then writers of stories would do well to study and practice a time-honored technique: thinking about the ways conventional stories behave, and then: breaking the rules. An especially ingenious and entertaining way to do this is to write a story disguised as another form of writing. In this module, we’ll engage with writers who have adopted unconventional structures to create stories written as letters, police blotters, blog posts, instruction manuals, and more. It will quickly be evident that the interplay that results from a story and the particular form it appropriates can be exciting for both writer and reader; there’s always a question of which particular conventions of the appropriated form the story will reproduce and which it will discard, subvert, or enlarge. If nothing else, writing stories that masquerade as other forms of writing allows us to reimagine the kinds of spaces stories can occupy, while acknowledging the vast possibilities of written expression.

March Seminar 
Full Stack Human

Instructors: Honorary Advisor, Scott Hartley and Professor Rishi Jaitly

Building on author Scott Hartley’s book The Fuzzy and the Techie, this module will offer fellows not only breadth of exposure to the liberal arts in their broadest sense, but will also challenge fellows to apply particular disciplines of the humanities to the opportunities and challenges presented by today’s technology’s transformations. Liberal arts concepts fellows will be exposed to will include: biology and anthropology; psychology and politics; sociology and literature; history and philosophy; and the arts and expression. Fellows will concurrently contemplate, and be challenged to apply the humanities to, technology trends as varied as data privacy, machine learning, automation, cybersecurity, gene editing and artificial intelligence. By applying, in real time, exposure to the foundational stack that is the humanities to rigorous reflection on present-day challenges, fellows will have learned to evaluate technology from a wide range of disciplinary approaches. This module will connect the dots across our world’s knowledge stack - past, present and future - and, in so doing, will have brought to life the analytic - and leadership framework of the future: Full Stack Human.

April Creative Work 


Drawing on what we’ve encountered and absorbed together during this second semester together - in readings, lectures and seminars - relating to the skills of inventive storytelling and the sensibilities of “full-stack” humans, produce a creative work that makes you proud. Whether poetry or prose, a play or portrait, be sure to lean into the very best of what the humanities do to us: that is, they compel us, and help us confront, all kinds of human others with awe and wonder. In so doing, they then produce in us a higher power of sensitivity, storytelling and stewardship. It may also help you to think about limitations as you create - limitations with respect to form and with respect to the humanities themselves - and how those same limitations might be subverted, and transcended. While writing, do your best to reflect on how your work - and the tales and themes within - might be applicable to the technology trends and most vexing questions of today. 

Fellow Convocation and Celebration
Arlington, Virginia


During this two-day, two-night gathering set in the backdrop of the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C, fellows from around the world will have a chance to reflect on all the ways they’ve grown their understanding of leadership in technology and beyond - and present their original creative scholarship to one another, and to the Institute’s faculty and advisory board. The gathering will end with a convocation in which Executive Leadership Certificates from Virginia Tech will be conferred and the formation of new community will be celebrated.


The price of the Virginia Tech Institute for Leadership in Technology’s low-residency, one-year Fellowship culminating in an Executive Leadership Certificate from the University is $12,500 per accepted fellow.

These student fees will allow Virginia Tech to bear all costs related to lodging, meals, books, learning materials, relevant technology, on-site parking and additional hospitality. Fellows are expected to be able to pay for transportation to and from the in-person convenings in September, January and April. We accept payments via a variety of medium - and schedules.  

Should prospective fellows have further questions regarding program and price, please e-mail


The deadline for expressing interest in joining the coming academic year's fellowship class is July 1st.