Sponsored by the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, the first seminar was held in 1982 as "a gathering of selected leaders from around the world to discuss basic trends and forces that will shape the 1980s and beyond." Fifteen countries were represented by the 26 participants. Speakers at that first seminar included Zbigniew Brzezenski, C. Fred Bergsten, Jacques de Larosiere, J. William Fulbright and Madeleine Albright, to name a few.

Each year, the Georgetown Leadership Seminar brings some 25-35 emerging leaders to the School of Foreign Service for a week of seminars and discussions on major foreign policy issues.  Bankers and parliamentarians have confronted generals and journalists over issues as diverse as the environment, nuclear proliferation, foreign assistance and Middle East conflicts.

Over the years, Seminar speakers – from Georgetown faculty to prominent government leaders and private sector executives – have brought their expertise to bear on the most salient foreign policy issues of the day, encouraging debate and discussion among participants and helping them better understand policies.

Past Seminar participants are members of an exclusive global alumni network which includes presidents and prime ministers, royalty, parliamentarians and cabinet level officials, CEOs and heads of NGOs, high-ranking military officers, journalists and academics. There are now more than 1000 alumni of GLS representing more than 100 countries.