Bonner Curriculum

"[I have learned through the Bonner Seminar], that there is a lot of change that is needed for this world and we are the people who can change it." Bonner Student


Mason's Bonner Four-Year Developmental Path

The Bonner Leadership Program’s student development model is designed to challenge and support students throughout their four years through an experiential learning model. Starting their first year at Mason, Bonner Leaders are oriented and immersed in exploring personal and interpersonal identity, the local and at-large community, and the program’s structure and expectations. Through a combination of course work and community engagement activities, students will evaluate the relationship between identity and place, and learn how to identify social problems and address questions within society. Each year the program builds upon itself, allowing students to lead, take more responsibility, and think more critically about their community experiences.

With the help of their Bonner advisor, Faculty advisor, and Community Partner Bonners will create a research question addressing a social issue of their choice by the end of their Sophomore year. The research question will be the cornerstone to designing and conducting an in-depth study, culminating in a Mason Impact designated Legacy Presentation their Senior Year. 

The Bonner Leadership curriculum aligns with the Mason Impact focus area, Community Engagement and Civic Learning, by allowing Bonners to participate in local, regional/state, national, or global community partnerships in the public or private sector that involve a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, resources, or services. Along with the active participation with a community agency, Bonners are also encouraged to pursue minors within the School of Integrative Studies or any other minor program at Mason that aligns with the students' research interest. Beyond the Bonner requirements, students are expected to satisfy all requirements of Admissions, their college and major credit hours. 

Bonner Development Path


The student learns about the Bonner Foundation network and the Bonner Leader Program at George Mason University. Students will be orientated to have a clear understanding of the qualifications, expectations, and commitment to what it means to be a Bonner Leader. Bonner Orientation, including the pairing of Bonner with the community partner, will take place in August 2020.


First-year students involve themselves in a variety of service projects, exploring their interests, discovering issues, agencies, and communities that align with a commitment to understanding what it means to be a personally responsible citizen.


Second-year students focus on a set of issues, exploring the ideas of leadership and evaluating their relationship to the community and/or an agency while beginning to serve as a regular volunteer and an active citizen discovering the differences and challenges of participatory citizenship. They begin to develop a deeper understanding of social issues and how the social issues they are observing can generate pathways for research inquiry (research question).


Third-year students emerge as leaders of discrete projects at their site and within the classroom. They will continue to develop their research question that will critically assess social, political, and economic structures evaluating beyond the surface-level causes. Bonners take courses and workshops to aid them in the design and application of their research interests.


Fourth-year students integrate their academic studies, knowledge gain from community sites, and research approach into their Mason designated Senior Legacy Presentation. An opportunity to professionally communicate knowledge garnered from their projects through a presentation, publication, or performance to an audience beyond the classroom with family, peers, and faculty present. Bonners demonstrate knowledge of fairness and equity and share their entire developmental journey via the presentation.