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 2019

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: 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 and economic justice and LGBTQIA 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,” with a special emphasis on the legacy of the Civil War, Jim Crow, and the Confederacy. It will invite each member of the seminar to become course experts on some aspect of leadership in Atlanta, past or present.

LDR 101: Liberty Leading the People: Studies in French Feminism(s) (taught in English by Julia Knowlton)

In this seminar, we will learn how women have used leadership in order to confront and surpass severe limitations in France and in the French-speaking world. From Joan of Arc, to women of the French Revolution, to the individual genius of fashion designers such as Coco Chanel, to the ground-breaking philosophy and literature of Simone de Beauvoir, we will explore the ways in which female leadership has brought about progress in French/Francophone cultures. Women writers and artists of color, including Hélène Cixous and Maryse Condé, will be emphasized in the second half of the course. Additional emphasis will be placed on liberating the oppressed female body through the subversive practice of écriture féminine: “censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard” (Cixous). 

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 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 Hunger Games; and The Golden Compass. 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: Writers as Moral Leaders (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: Language, Culture and Society (Jing Paul)

In this seminar, we will explore leadership through the lens of language, culture and society.  By identifying the traditional cultural values of distinguished societies (the east and the west), we will discuss, debate, and discover how these different values shape our identities. We will utilize the appreciation of cultural products (e.g., movies, folklores), the execution of cultural practices (e.g., dance, traditional sports, cuisine), and the investigation of cultural perspectives (e.g., individualism vs. collectivism) to facilitate the theoretical understanding of the topic. By closely analyzing the linguistic practices and social norms of culturally specific groups, we will not only dive into the cutting-edge theories of leadership in the global world, but also develop essential strategies to cope with real-life situations.  

LDR 101: Religion and Economic Justice (Tina Pippin)

Rising income inequality has prompted religious responses. Rev. M.L. King, Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign (1968) and the New Poor People's Campaign (2018-present), along with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Interfaith Worker Justice, are the foundational religious movements dealing with food insecurity/hunger, poverty wages and wage theft, labor abuses, and human trafficking.  We will study poverty and homelessness with our community partner Hagar's House, a homeless shelter for families near Agnes Scott, and within an increasingly-gentrifying Decatur. We will examine systemic oppression, movement building for social change, and engage change agents in the movement.

LDR 101: Taming the Dragon: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb (Ruth Riter)

In this seminar course, we focus on the history of The Manhattan Project, the United States efforts to develop, test, and ultimately use the first atomic bombs.  We will investigate the birth of the Project including the timeline of events and the science behind the development of a weapon with great explosive power due to the sudden release of energy upon fission of atoms.  We will examine the first-hand accounts and oral histories of many men and women who worked on the Project to understand their lives during a world war, their work cloaked in secrecy, and their initial responses to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  We will also compare and contrast the leadership styles of the General Leslie Groves, the ranking military office in charge of The Project, and Professor J. Robert Oppenheimer, the lead scientist of the team assigned the task to design and build the bombs.

LDR 101: Gender and Music (Jason Solomon)

Are musical styles gendered? Consider rock music, a male-dominated practice since its inception. Is the masculinity of rock exclusively a sociocultural phenomenon or can it be attributed in part to how the music sounds? Do musical qualities activate gender stereotypes—causing a particular style or song to be perceived as either feminine or masculine? Following an orientation around gender studies, this course examines gender through the lens of musical practice. We will read articles by musicologists and social critics, and also write and present on the reception and impact of women musicians. In an effort to identify a link between the sounds of a given style and any gender associated with it, we will learn to analyze and describe the various musical elements that distinguish one musical style from another.

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: Philosophy and the Crisis of Leadership (Harald Thorsrud)

Despite all we know about what makes someone a good leader, there seems to be an ongoing, global crisis of leadership. Even as we confront more and more apparently intractable problems like climate change and systemic injustice we trust and approve of our leaders less and less. In this course, we will first articulate and examine the ideal character traits of good leaders as well as good followers, and connect those traits to the skills and knowledge promoted in the liberal arts and particularly in philosophy. We will then consider the disconnect between good leadership in theory and in practice by examining some of the sources of the leadership crisis: What prevents actual leaders from leading well? Using our answers to this question, students will work individually and in teams to explore how we might more effectively address some of the social and intellectual challenges of our times. 

LDR 101: Sacred Custodians: Conservation in Africa (Benjamin E. Twagira)

In this seminar we will explore environmental conservation in Africa. In particular we will look at African ideas, ethics, and approaches to environmental conservation. Popular images of the continent’s perpetual environmental crises blame African practices or disregard African efforts. Depictions of deforestation, desertification, and overgrazing have not only affected international policy but also galvanized global conservation efforts. In this seminar we focus on African ideas, ethics, and practices that are uniquely conservationist in nature. We will read biographies of well-known African leaders to understand what spurred them to become conservationists, how they interpreted and communicated environmental crisis. For example, Wangari Maathai is a world-renowned female scientist who established the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. This movement focuses on addressing the problem of deforestation. We will explore whether the identities of the leaders of these movements (such as gender and age) affected the direction of the movements, including but not limited to, the activities they focused on and how they articulated environmental crises. 

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: 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 1970s 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 Third World Women’s Alliance and the Combahee River Collective, AIDS activism by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement, Women’s March, 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, activist videos, and digital media.