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LK Scholars at an excursion visiting Paris Woodhull's studio in spring 2024.

Leadership Knoxville Scholars


The Leadership Knoxville Scholars (LKS) program offers a dynamic model of leadership education by fostering strategic alliances with community partners. By uniting student leaders with the esteemed members of Leadership Knoxville, LKS cultivates a powerful synergy between collegians and the Knoxville community.

LKS seeks out the University of Tennessee’s most exceptional student leaders, and provides opportunities to forge meaningful connections with influential figures in the Knoxville community. Rooted in the principles of servant leadership, community empowerment, and social transformation, LKS offers an immersive two-year journey in leadership development and community engagement.

Program Highlights


LK Scholars engage in two distinct leadership courses that mark the beginning and culmination of their programmatic journey. The initial course, ELPS 411 – LKS Fall Seminar, delves into Servant Leadership through the lens of social change while exploring topics such as civic engagement and the rich history of Knoxville’s communities. As the final course, ELPS 411 – LKS Senior Capstone concentrates on further leadership refinement and navigating civic involvement beyond graduation.



Throughout the two-year program, Scholars benefit from personalized mentorship provided by distinguished community leaders affiliated with the Leadership Knoxville program. The mentorship journey commences with a special mentor reveal event during the Scholars’ second semester, forging lasting bonds that extend until graduation, and even beyond. These mentor-mentee relationships serve as invaluable platforms for advancing Scholars’ professional growth and personal development endeavors.


As a fundamental principle of the LKS Program, Servant Leadership guides our commitment to community service. During their time in the program, Scholars will complete a Community Action Project  (CAPs) that involves 60 hours spent serving with one community organization of their choice. These projects are completed in collaboration with a specific community partner, with whom the student works to address a specific need in Knoxville. Students are empowered to create their own projects based on their interests and passions and the project design process occurs during the fall ELPS 411 seminar. CAPs offer Scholars an exceptional opportunity to deepen their leadership skills while actively contributing to Knoxville’s civic engagement.

Community Immersion

In addition to service opportunities, Scholars have other chances to get involved in the Knoxville community through their Knoxville Intro Day and semesterly Knoxville Excursions. The Knoxville Intro Day takes place during the spring semester before the students begin the program. Past trips have includes visiting the CAP partners, low ropes challenge courses, a tour of the city, eating at local restaurants while speaking with local entrepreneurs, and visiting the Sunsphere.

During their time in the program, Scholars are presented with enriching opportunities to discover and engage with the Knoxville community through curated excursions. Previous outings have encompassed diverse experiences, such as screen-printing at Paris Woodhull Illustrations, exploring the urban wilderness through hikes at Ijams Nature Center, visiting the Knoxville Arts & Fine Crafts Center, and meeting with state representatives at the Tennessee Capitol.

What Are Participants Saying about LKS?

“[Leadership Knoxville Scholars] is without a doubt the favorite program I participated in during my time at UT. These two years have challenged, empowered, and encouraged me to be a leader in my community, and it taught me to explore Knoxville and plant roots for the future.”

“Being in LKS has given me the opportunity to be a part of an organization that teaches me more about Knoxville and the people that make it so unique.”

Application Information

Apply here for the 2026 cohort!

Applications will close on April 7th, 2024. Please reach out to with any questions.

For faculty and staff: Recommend your students for the next cohort!