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 2020

LDR 101: Gender Equity in STEM (Daisy Bourassa)

Literacy and advocacy that empowers students to engage in long-term positive change is important for the progress of gender equity in STEM. Students in this course will gain knowledge of the ways that gender bias impacts STEM training, careers, and advancement in leadership. Discussion will focus on strategies to recognize gender bias, intervene, and advocate for equity. This course is designed to help students develop their leadership skills in relation to their ability to confront gender bias in everyday situations experienced by STEM students, teachers, and professionals. Assignments will consist of readings, short videos, synchronous and asynchronous discussions, group activities, writing assignments and presentations.

LDR 101: Ethical Leadership: Case Studies of Ethical Leadership in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) (Yakini Brandy)

One can debate different leadership styles across numerous professional fields in STEM, but every leader must behave ethically; it's undebatable.  A great leader guides, inspires, and nurtures; but ethics is the foundation of excellent leadership. This seminar is fringed on the implications of ethical leadership cases within STEM professions. We will evaluate captious situations that test the morality and virtuosity of a STEM leader. After reading some ethical leadership theories, we will dissect some cases and build a framework for decision-making that reflects Agnes’ model: reflect, analyze, and act. Students will write reflection papers for each case study, and, as the final project, assess ethical issues surrounding a leader in their desired STEM profession.   

LDR 101: Leadership as Influence (Amy Breidenthal)

In the management literature, there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are people who’ve defined it. However, the most common theme that persists through all of these definitions is the concept of influence. Hence, from the perspective of management science, leadership is, at the core, about influencing others. In this seminar, we will study the science of influence and persuasion, interrogate real-life and fictional character examples of influencing behaviors, and put these tactics into action through course activities. Additional topics may include gender differences in and ethical considerations of leadership as influence.      

LDR 101: Race, Gender and Social Change: Case Studies of Women’s Leadership in US History (Mary Cain)

Struggles for racial and gender equality represent central narratives in the history of the United States, and the leadership of American women has been essential to those narratives. Using a case study approach, this course will examine the lives, leadership, identities and values of several prominent—and some not-so-prominent—American women whose ideas and activism have shaped social conditions in various historical periods. Main topics include: women’s participation in the American Revolution; women in abolition; women as labor organizers; women’s suffrage; anti-lynching campaigns; women in the Civil Rights struggle; feminism and the women’s rights movement; Native American women’s activism; and more contemporary campaigns such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.  As we consider these topics, we will maintain an on-going class discussion about what constitutes leadership, whether there are distinctively female forms of effective leadership, and how personal identity informs leadership issues. 

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

This seminar will explore leadership through the lens of the people’s use of power in the radical democracy of classical Athens. We will examine the birth of this political institution in the sixth century BCE, its organization, and the early and frequent criticisms made of this bold political experiment. In readings ranging from ancient Greek tragedy to comedy, history, and philosophy, we will interrogate whether democracy is simply ‘mob rule’ by another name, rule by the mediocre, and unstable by nature. Further, for six sessions each student will embody an Athenian democrat in a historical role-playing game in which you and your classmates will debate key issues every democracy must grapple with, such as: Who gets the vote? Who gets social welfare? Do we adopt a policy of free or limited speech? Do we need an aggressive military? Overall, this seminar will have a two-fold purpose: 1) to acquire a working knowledge of the rule of the people in antiquity and 2) to acquire leadership skills crucial in our own modernity through teamwork and individual exercises. 

LDR 101: Women Directors: The Female Gaze in Action (Maria Korol)

This course will explore the work of women leaders in a male dominated industry: filmmaking. Directors are experts at unfolding and controlling narratives, presenting a story from a particular point of view, conveying explicit and implicit information through the elements of plot, photography, sound, and pace. Men have historically occupied the role of creators in art forms like sculpture, painting, photography, and film, often depicting women as objects of sexual titillation or, at best, sources of inspiration. We will examine how women directors have pushed and continue to push against the male gaze, transforming and creating ways of seeing, thinking, and telling stories from a different perspective. Some directors we will study include Alice Guy-Blache, Ida Lupino, Barbara Loden, Kelly Reichardt, Jane Campion, Jeanine Meerapfel, and Sophia Coppola. 

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 seminar, 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. After reading some feminist, gender, and leadership theory, 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 Golden Compass; Binti; and The Hunger Games. Students will write reflection papers and analyses of films and novels, and, in groups as the final project, design their own young adult fantasy story, and write, film, and screen a segment of that story.

LDR 101: Social Business- Principles, Lessons and Challenges (Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere)

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus defined social business as a business created and designed to address a social problem.  In this seminar, we will leverage economic principles and concepts as we explore leadership with a focus on social business. The history of social business will be examined and its growth and expansion in different parts of the world will be explored.  We will learn more about different types of social businesses, leadership in this sector and the main principles that social business emphasizes. Potential challenges will also be analyzed from the perspectives of developing and developed countries.

LDR 101: Gender and Political Leadership in Times of Crisis (Holloway Sparks)

The Covid-19 pandemic, acute racial injustices, and the worldwide recession are presenting extraordinary challenges to contemporary political leaders. This course will explore the difficulties of political leadership in times of uncertainty and risk, with a special focus on how conflicting understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality shape political leadership in important and sometimes unexpected ways. By bringing feminist, queer, and critical race theory into conversation with political science research, the course will provide students with tools for critically investigating contemporary case studies of political leadership from Atlanta (Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Movement for Black Lives), Georgia (Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp), the U.S. Congress (Mitch McConnell, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, AOC), the U.S. Presidency (Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump), and the world (Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern).  

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 StoryNetworkThe CircleThe Players’ Tribune, and TMZ.

LDR 101: Women and Political Leadership: Opportunities, Obstacles and Strategies of Empowerment (Mona Tajali)

Across much of the world women’s political rights, or the right to elect and be elected to office, are recognized, with 2020 marking a century since the 19th amendment recognized this right for women in the United States, and 55 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 extended voting rights to communities of color. Despite widespread legal recognition of women’s political rights, women’s presence and influence on formal politics remains limited both in the US and across the globe, largely due to the numerous obstacles that are intentionally built into our political structures. Rather than passive subjects however, women, as active agents, have been demanding and organizing for greater political roles in their communities and beyond; and have achieved important gains. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with key concepts of women’s political agency both at the grassroots levels and political decision-making roles. From an intersectional lens, we will analyze the significance of women as political leaders as activists or politicians, and recognize the main obstacles and opportunities that impact their political influence, and identify major strategies that has led to their political empowerment in diverse contexts.    

LDR 101: Sit-ins, Kiss-ins, and Die-ins: Feminist and LGBTQ+ Activism in the Contemporary U.S. (Lauran Whitworth)

This course will survey feminist and LGBTQ+ activism in the U.S. from the late 1960s to today. We will examine numerous models of leadership, direct action, and community building that feminist and LGBTQ+ activists have employed to create change and combat oppression. Course units will include: women’s liberation, multiracial feminism, such as the Combahee River Collective, AIDS activism by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement, and trans rights groups, such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. We will analyze the strategies and tools utilized by these groups, critically assessing their strengths, their shortcomings, and their relevance today. In addition to readings written by and about these movements, our course materials will include archival materials, documentaries, and activist videos. The final project for this class asks students to draw on the various individuals, groups, and movements we will study to create a collaborative action plan that addresses a social justice issue they are passionate about.

LDR 101: Religious Leadership (Abraham Zablocki)

This course explores the nature of leadership within different religions. By examining case studies of individuals who worked within their respective religious traditions to transform their societies, the course will consider the role that individuals with strong leadership skills can play in bringing about effective change. The course will also consider the ways in which religious leadership can be used to motivate people to commit human rights violations or otherwise act in ways that appear counter to the basic principles of that leader's religion. Case studies may include: The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Anne Hutchinson, Osama bin Laden, and Jim Jones. Throughout, the course will seek to compare religions cross-culturally, in order to reach a deeper understanding of how, at their best, religious leaders may motivate their followers to make the world a better place, and how, at its worst, religious leadership may be used to justify acts of great evil.