LDR 101: Leadership Prologue

LDR 101 seminars explore how the liberal arts inform good leadership. They engage every first-year student in the exploration of an interesting topic while providing the intellectual orientation and skills foundational to college learning and effective leadership.  All LDR 101 seminars, regardless of topic, share specific learning goals based on the faculty's conviction that all good leaders work well with others, think analytically, and communicate effectively. For these reasons, all LDR 101 seminars place special emphasis on five fundamental intellectual and leadership skills: critical thinking, writing, public speaking, digital literacy, and teamwork.

Each seminar is designed to help you do the following, both singly and as a member of a team:

  • Summarize and explain the main ideas of a text, speech, doctrine, principle or belief.
  • Identify and analyze significant issues, problems, and questions, and evaluate or develop effective responses.
  • Articulate, compare and judge the strengths and weaknesses of two or more competing arguments about an issue, problem or question, supporting your comparative judgment with appropriate evidence.
  • Develop, focus and organize ideas concerning a central topic, and create, revise and present these ideas in written, spoken, visual and digital forms using appropriate sources.
  • Articulate how working toward the outcomes above has informed your understanding of leadership and your capacity to lead.  

Leadership Prologue Courses, Fall 2018

LDR 101  Freeing the Word: The Art of Translation (Lauren Albin)

According to the poet Kim Hyesoon, the goal of translation is freedom--the sense that “if not for your translation the [words] will be forever trapped in prison.” She goes on to say that through the act of translation the translator is gifted with the power of “broadening the horizons” of their own language and “extending the potential” of their own mother tongue, rather than that of the translated language. In this seminar, we will use translation as a tool to transcend language, escaping the prison of codified speech, to meet in the spaces that exist between words.  We will also consider how navigating these spaces and negotiating the process of translation is a leadership opportunity that integrates and challenges the power of the translator as listener, medium and collaborator among and between voices. The texts we will study include translations across genres--poetry, prose, art, dance, and song--as well as theory. We will consider how to translate through image, sound and body in addition to language. Each student will work towards completing an individual translation project while collaborating with their peers as editors, artists, and performers to gain a deeper understanding of language as a living breathing thing that changes often, just as we ourselves grow and change. ***Knowledge of more than one language is not necessary for this course.*

LDR 101 From Handbills to Hashtags: A Global History of Student Activism (Kirstian Blaich)

Young people have long been at the forefront of social change. Students in particular have emerged as leaders of protest movements since the mid-19th century, using the tools of critical thinking and exposure to the world of ideas to engage the social and intellectual challenges of their times. This course will examine the leadership and legacy of student movements in a variety of historical periods and places, including students’ roles in and responses to nationalism, communism and fascism in Europe; decolonization; the Civil Rights movement in the United States; the campaign against the Vietnam War; the Iranian Revolution; the Tiananmen Uprising; and the Arab Spring. We will conclude our study by examining contemporary student movements around the world, as events unfold, such as the March For Our Lives anti-gun movement inspired by the students of Parkland, FL. The final project of the semester will invite students to identify and develop a course of action around a contemporary problem of their own choosing.

LDR 101 Democracy and its Critics in Ancient Greece (Scarlett Kingsley)

How did democracy arise in the West? Why does this 2,500-year-old system still hold such power in our own modernity? Given this power, why do so many of the early Greek thinkers find democracy problematic, and in certain cases, irreparably so? In this course we will explore the origins of democracy in its cultural, social, and political context in Classical Athens. We will investigate critiques of this system of government, and engage in lively discussion on the relationship of current challenges to democracy in light of these ancient appraisals of mass-rule. Readings will be diverse, including poetry, oratory, history, philosophical treatises, as well as religious texts, and you will also evaluate material culture and archaeological evidence. Historicizing democracy will allow us to reflect critically upon the individual’s role as a leader in this system of government and the relationship of the people, ‘demos’, to this leader.

LDR 101 Mexican Muralism and the Rise of Public Art (Maria Korol)

Mural making artists are leaders in raising awareness about social issues in public spaces. In this course we will study how Communism affected the avant-garde in Russia and track how this ideology travelled and influenced Latin American artists, particularly the Mexican muralists known as “Los Tres Grandes”: Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We will look at their legacy in examples from contemporary murals in Atlanta and other US cities, and globally in places like Berlin and Northern Ireland. The instructor will facilitate engagement between students and local muralists and mural based projects in Atlanta such as Living Walls ATL and Forward Warrior as a way to apply the leadership concepts covered in the classroom. 

LDR 101 Role Models from the Past: Leadership in the Roman Exemplary Tradition (Emily Master)

This seminar will explore leadership through the lens of the ancient Romans’ exemplary tradition, a collection of stories intended to enact, preserve, and model ‘good’ leadership.  From Horatius Cocles, who single-handedly defended a bridge from an army of invaders, to Cornelia, the virtuous mother behind two revolutionary politicians, the Romans used exemplary stories to craft a model of leadership for future generations.  Through a variety of ancient prose and poetic texts and material evidence, we will examine the Roman definition of leadership and qualities of a good leader. Is the Roman conception of leadership still relevant today? Can we find exempla for our own world in their ancient stories or do we need new models for contemporary leadership?  How do we teach leadership today?

LDR 101 Leadership and Gender in the Young Adult Fantasy Novel and Film (Robert Meyer-Lee)

In this section, we will evaluate critically the representation of leadership and gender in several young adult fantasy novels and the films based on them, novels written by both women and men, and featuring both female and male protagonists. We will examine closely the ways in which these novels and films construct positive and negative models of leadership and of gender, and the ways in which they relate these models to each other.  We will assess how much these models do and do not conform to existing norms and how successful they may be at challenging those norms. Examples of possible novels and films include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; The Hunger Games; and The Golden Compass. Students will write reflection papers and film review blog posts, and, in groups as the final project, write, film, and screen a scene from their own young adult fantasy story.

LDR 101 The Role of Writers as Moral Leadership (Kamilah Moon)

In this seminar, we will examine various examples of literature and oratory that have inspired and facilitated change in America and globally. The course will include a cursory overview of leadership theory as we explore and interrogate how writers have influenced conditions in our public lives, in our schools and universities, in our cultural, civic, and religious lives, in our homes, and at critical moments in our personal lives.

Each of us plays a role in the moral drama of the world around us. Anyone can inspire and help shape us morally, spur us on to purposeful action—and from time to time we are called on to be those leaders for others, either in a small, day-to-day way, or on the world's larger stage. At this time in America, and in the rest of the world, we seem to need moral leadership especially, but the need for moral inspiration is ever present.

LDR 101 #FakeNews (Robin Morris)

In an era when “Fake News!” has become a common insult and hashtag, how do we know who to trust? What is clickbait and what is real? This course will study hoaxes, white lies, stretched truths, and other forms of untruths from past and present while we consider who, what, and how to trust today.  We will undertake case studies of various issues and incidents, using Kevin Young’s Bunk and the New York Times, among other texts, for information and analysis.

LDR 101 Suffrage, Art and Labor: Women Leading Change in Greenwich Village 1913 (Kerry Pannell)

In the early 20th century, courageous women in New York City were at the forefront of economic, political and social change.  In this course, we will study the history of the labor and suffrage movements and analyze leadership using current understandings of how people can motivate change. We will engage foundational literature whilst debating how best to advance the role of women in 20th-century American society. In addition to learning about leadership in this historic context, we will also explore women’s leadership in more recent contexts and learn about game development.

This course is framed around an immersive pedagogical game set in 1913 Greenwich Village, before women won the right to vote and while efforts to recognize labor in the United States were just beginning.  Some of us will take on characters in the struggle for women’s voting and labor rights; others will be part of the bohemian artists who delved into new ideas about women, marriage and family. The game will spill over from the classroom to campus; be willing to fully engage your role as motivators of change.

LDR 101 The Women of Wakanda: Interrogating Leadership in Black Panther (Heather Scott)

This seminar will interrogate and explore leadership through the lens of the fantasy/science fiction film Black Panther with specific focus on the female characters in the film and their leadership styles and characteristics. We will assess the portrayals of the women of Wakanda and examine the implications of these representations of leadership in the film. Students will utilize viewing skills and strategies, including observations and note taking, to understand and interpret film clips and portrayals of leadership. The course will include a cursory overview of leadership theory with a nuanced focus on the intersectionality of gender and leadership.

LDR 101 Female Preaching in Early America (Kristyn Sessions)

This seminar will explore the complex relationship of women, leadership, and religion through the stories of female preachers in 18th- and 19th-century America.  What can we learn from these women, who were largely denied ordination, yet actively led religious communities and sought social change? Possible figures include Jarena Lee, Sojourner Truth, Phoebe Palmer, Ellen G. White.

LDR 101 Feminist Leadership and Visual Practice:  Looking through Project Womanhouse and Identity Politics (Katherine Smith)

This seminar focuses on Womanhouse, a project in the Feminist Art Program at CalArts in the early 1970s, which sought to change representation of and by women as it introduced new pedagogical approaches and aspirational goals: its co-leaders were training college women to become professional artists. We will consider how Womanhouse reflects its historical context and nonetheless provides enduring lessons about identity formation and feminist leadership.  We will also study works in Agnes Scott College's permanent collection to see how later artists, in the 1980s and 1990s, have extended identity politics to disparate artistic practices to represent various gender, sexual, and racial identities.  This seminar, more generally, considers how we negotiate, communicate and create identity in visual terms. Throughout the course, we will examine our practices of looking as we analyze the ways that contemporary artists use images for personal expression and cultural resistance, considering both how we can read their images and how we can (and do) construct our own.

LDR 101 Media, Communication, and the Shape of Our World (James Stamant)

After Johannes Gutenberg “invented” modern printing with movable type in the fifteenth century, it became much easier to disseminate information to large groups of people. Yet, the question remains: how is communication affected by the medium that exists between the speaker and the audience? Was Marshall McLuhan right when he wrote that “the medium is the message”?  In this class we will consider how media has attempted to facilitate communication, transmit information, and tell stories, from Gutenberg to the present. We will examine old media and new media alike, including contemporary modes such as digital media, social media, and celebrity media.

How does an understanding of, and ability to manipulate, media help leaders to lead?  What is the relationship between media and leadership? We will interrogate these questions and this topic from different angles and by looking at various kinds of texts to create a discussion about the importance of media in the past, our present moment, and the future. Possible texts include Super Sad True Love Story, Network, The Circle, The Players’ Tribune, and TMZ.

LDR 101 Social and Environmental Mathematics: Following Their Consciousness and Sharing Their Talent (Patricia Vela)

This seminar will investigate questions of leadership by studying exemplars who use mathematical and technical skills to harness technologies for social good – to transform society – sometimes at the risk of their own lives, careers or reputations. We will identify the controversies around their actions and technological innovations and also evaluate their improvement the social good, focusing especially on advances around energy use, globally. We will build individual, solar energy devices. No mathematics or technology background knowledge is needed. All you need is an open mind!

LDR 101 Leadership in Atlanta (James Diedrick)

Intimately bound up in America’s history, and increasingly important as an international city, Atlanta has been—and continues to be—a center for leadership. Leadership in Atlanta encompasses struggles for racial justice and LGBTQ rights; pioneering work in the medical sciences, public health and technology; and political achievements (Atlanta boasts the first African-American mayor and the first African-American woman mayor of any major city in the south). In addition, Atlanta has one of the largest concentrations of leading colleges, universities and corporations in the United States. This course will explore the nature and value of leadership by focusing on the city some call “The Center of the New South.” It will invite each member of the seminar (including the professor) to become course experts on some aspect of leadership in Atlanta, past or present. This focus will provide a framework for improving students’ foundational skills for success in college and, by extension, their leadership skills

LDR 101 Communication and Public Memory (Mina Ivanova)

“Memory,” writes communication scholar Marita Sturken, “forms the fabric of human life.” Memory is at the core of individual and collective identity, because the ways in which we remember the past gives direction and meaning to our present. But what does it mean for a community or a nation or a people to remember? This seminar introduces students to the study of public memory from a critical communication perspective. We will focus on the role various communicative practices play in the construction, negotiation, and revision of a community’s collective memory. Through case studies from different historical and cultural contexts, we will examine the interrelations between public memory, power, identity, and belonging. We will analyze a wide range of texts, including museums, memorials, monuments, commemorations, film, television, theater, art, photography, music, websites, and social media. The goal of the course is not for students to seek solutions to problems of memory, but rather to develop enabling questions that will help guide their own projects. Who gets to tell the story of the past and what story gets told? What is the difference between history and memory? Which historical representations and identities are dominant and visible and which ones are silenced and marginalized? What role does forgetting play in the social and political life of a given community? Ethical leadership often requires critical engagement with such questions.