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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 2023

Select a course to view the description.

LDR-101 (McAdams): Empresses, Saints and Eunuchs: Leadership Examples From the Later Roman Empire (4.00)

This course will examine how, during the late Roman empire’s time of crisis, men, women, and eunuchs rose into leadership roles. The centuries between 200 and 1204 saw tremendous change in Europe and the whole Mediterranean, as the Roman Empire devolved into a split empire and went from a pagan, urbanized society with a centralized government and Mediterranean-wide trade to a monotheistic, eastern and Greek-speaking empire. The objective of this course is to examine how Roman emperors and empresses managed to prevail over others and maintain their power, and how we can conceptualize the role of gender and religion when it comes to power in the Roman world. Our readings include primary sources in translation on: saints' lives, biographies of emperors and empresses, religious canons, and the Greek epic The Alexiad written by princess Anna Komnene. At the end of the term, students will write a paper on what was "good" leadership, whether it be through ruling an empire, army, or congregation, using the primary sources we've read as evidence.

Taught by Kaelyn McAdams.

LDR-101 (Lovell): Environmental Leadership and Climate Change (4.00)

Leadership at all levels plays a pivotal role in assessing and addressing climate change.  What are the primary influences in how leaders affect the national and international dialogue on climate change and climate justice?  In what areas are leaders most effective in making climate change a priority and limiting carbon emissions to match international targets such as those in the Paris Agreement?  What are the challenges faced by scientific, political, and other community leaders in efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change in ways that acknowledge the social and economic needs of the people most affected by it?  In this section, we will use scientific principles to outline and assess the causes and impacts of climate change, and review the impacts, both positive and negative, of leadership in scientific, political, social, economic and environmental efforts to lower the impacts of climate change in the future.

Taught by Amy Lovell.

LDR-101 (Blaich): From Handbills to Hashtags: A Global History of Student Activism (4.00)

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. 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.

Taught by Kristian Blaich.

LDR-101 (Meyer-Lee): Leadership and Gender in the Young Adult Fantasy Novel and Film (4.00)

In this seminar, we will critically evaluate the representation of leadership and gender in several young adult fantasy novels and the films based on them. 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 teams as the final project, design their own young adult fantasy story, and write, film, and screen a segment of that story.

Taught by Bobby Meyer-Lee.

LDR-101 (Drescher): Leadership and German Science Fiction: Anticipating the Future (4.00)

What leadership qualities will we need in the future? What will guide our decisions about how we live our lives in conditions that we can’t yet foresee? In this course, we will familiarize ourselves with the “remarkable set of tools” (Holland James) that science fiction provides for its readers: to imagine, learn, and strategize about alternative realities. Science fiction prompts us to think through complex systems, test assumptions, connect disciplines, understand the fragility of our world or ecosystem, and, finally, to compare and choose between competing approaches. Science fiction, like leadership, requires us to develop a bird’s-eye view of our world and adapt to rapid change. Reading and viewing selected German science fiction novels and films (in English translation) we will develop intercultural competence and pay particular attention to another culture’s assessment of future problems, its approaches to solutions, and to how its characters embody competing discourses and rationalizations.

Taught by Barbara Drescher.

LDR-101 (Yep): Leadership and the Art of Science (4.00)

This course explores the role of leadership by looking at connections between art and science. We may be used to the idea of science as a cold, hard progression of reason, like a geometric proof. However, the scientific process occurs at the edge of human knowledge, where we do not know the answers. How do we find them? How do we discover the fundamental nature of our world? How do we even ask the right questions? It turns out there is a great deal of creativity in science, both in research and in presenting results. Leadership in science requires us to combine rigorous research with clear and convincing presentations. In this course we will study scientists, thinkers, and researchers from Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vincito to Dr. Nia Amara and examine what role art has played in their scientific endeavors. We will draw, paint, read scientific papers, play with data, and analyze the differences and crossover between artistic and scientific experiences. We will incorporate science into art and art into science and see how doing so could help you become a leader in your field. No prior artistic or scientific prowess is required.

Taught by Alexandra Yep.

LDR-101 (Morris): Leadership for Introverts (4.00)

Too often, leadership gets conflated with extroverts-- speaking to large audiences, networking, having lots of friends. Be aware, this course will not teach introverts to be extroverts, nor will it teach extroverts to be introverts. Rather, this section will analyze research and identify role models to examine the leadership strengths of introverts-- introspection, relationship-building, self-knowledge, observation, (yes) public speaking, and more. These are traits anyone can incorporate into a personal leadership journey. Students will develop strategies for success in college as well as for leadership in life beyond the campus. 

Taught by Robin Morris.

LDR-101 (Stamant N): Life Writing and Leadership: Social Justice and Cultural Memory (4.00)

Personal narratives and stories about lived experiences galvanize movement after movement, promoting civil and human rights across the world. How? What is it about life stories--life writing--that can mobilize and convince? What is the relationship between bearing witness and providing testimony? How can life writing and acts of memory provide counternarratives that promote social justice? And, how do we see these works as acts of leadership? In this course, we will consider how social justice and cultural memory intersect with personal narratives, and how those narratives demonstrate different approaches to leadership. We will read life writing--that is, “the umbrella term that encompasses the extensive array and diverse modes of personal storytelling that takes experiential history as a starting point” (Schaffer and Smith 7)--with particular attention to how people construct themselves, their lives, and their communities. In so doing, we will see how personal narratives can demand recognition and function as a call to action. 

Taught by Nicole Stamant.

LDR-101 (Stamant J): Media, Communication, and the Shape of Our World (4.00)

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.

This class will have a strong focus on how arguments are made in the media and will examine topics pertaining to the ethics surrounding media and users. We will read some literary texts (including a film), write rhetorical analyses, and build toward a team debate in which the questions to be debated will come from the students. In the past, we've debated questions such as, "who should bear responsibility for the content on socia media platforms?" In the past, we've had two guest speakers, and I hope to bring them back. The first is a book historian and the second is the Director of Public Policy for Meta.

Taught by James Stamant.

LDR-101 (Thorsrud): Philosophy and the Crisis of Leadership (4.00)

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 and institutions less and less. In this course, we will attempt to understand some of the factors that prevent or inhibit good leadership by exploring two related claims. First, the crisis of leadership is due, in part, to our leaders’ inability to achieve an appropriate balance between conviction and open-mindedness, along with our own tendency to prefer certainty to doubt in our leaders. Our main questions here will be: What is open-mindedness? How do we develop it, and how do we practice it, especially in leadership? Second, an application of closed-mindedness is found in our collective preference for supposedly permanent technical solutions to adaptive challenges that call for complex diagnoses and solutions, and typically require changes in our beliefs, values, and behavior. 

Taught by Hal Thorsrud.

LDR-101 (Zablocki): Religious Leadership (4.00)

This section of LDR 101 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. 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.

Taught by Abraham Zablocki.

LDR-101 (Uwaifo Oyelere): Social Business (4.00)

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus defined social business as a business created and designed to address a social problem.  In this leadership class, we will leverage economic principles and business concepts as we explore leadership through the lens of an emerging type of business which brings together solving social problems and maintaining a sustainable business not dependent on donations for continuity.  Students will learn about the history of social business, and its growth and expansion in different parts of the world will be explored. Students will also learn more about different types of social businesses, leadership in this sector including social-business entrepreneurs, forward-looking funders and intrepid social intrapreneurs. We will also spend time reviewing the main principles that social business emphasizes.  Students will be exposed to how the power of business can be harnessed to attenuate poverty and the climate crises. We will also delve into  how the COVID 19 pandemic is affecting social businesses around the world. An important aspect of the class is the development of a social business idea proposal by each student and pitching this idea to the class.  If you are interested in social entrepreneurship, or are thinking about starting an organization designed to solve a social problem, this class would provide information that could facilitate your preparation to achieve that goal.

Taught by Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere.

LDR-101 (D'Amico): What Makes Life Worth Living: Creativity and Leadership (4.00)

In this course we will read literary, philosophical, and psychological writings on creativity, studying how it has been theorized as a mediating process between self and world; thought and action; what is and what is yet to be. Beginning with the novelist Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” and the psychoanalyst and memoirist Marion Milner’s A Life of One’s Own, we will reflect on how finding oneself amid pressure to be someone else constitutes itself an expression of creativity. Drawing from these meditations on self-creation and case studies taken from diverse media, we will, following Donald Winnicott in “On the Origins of Creativity,” reflect on what it might mean to live creatively, and how this in turn transforms our relationship to the external world from one of compliance—in which one feels like nothing matters—to one in which life is worth living.

Taught by John D'Amico.

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