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 2022

Select a course to view the description.

LDR-101 (Koch): Cryptology and Cryptography: The Making and Breaking of Secret Codes (4.00)

Throughout history, leaders of nations and corporations have searched for ways to exchange messages in secret. In this LDR-101, we will discuss classical ways in which messages were exchanged, from ciphers used by Julius Caesar to public-key ciphers which have evolved since the age of the computer. We will see how each is constructed and analyze their vulnerabilities using mathematical tools. No mathematical background is assumed.

Taught by Alan Koch.

LDR-101 (Kingsley): Democracy and Its Critics in Ancient Greece (4.00)

This course will explore the rise of democracy by looking at its roots in Classical Athens. We will examine the birth of the ‘power to the people’ movement; chart the organization of Athenian democracy; and discuss the different forms democracy took early on. At the same time, we will engage actively with the problems confronting this bold experiment, analyzing and expounding arguments used for and against this system of government. Is democracy in fact ‘mob rule’ by another name? Does rule by many encourage mediocrity? Is it unstable by nature? Debating these questions will have a two-fold purpose: 1) to examine one model of leadership, the rule of the people, in antiquity 2) to acquire leadership skills crucial in our own modernity through teamwork and individual exercises. This course will use a Reacting to the Past experiential ‘game’ in which you will embody an ancient Athenian to foster the critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills emphasized in all LDR courses. In it, you will creatively articulate your own understanding of the relationship of political constitution to leadership. 

Taught by Scarlett Kingsley.

LDR-101 (Young Bey): Did She Really Just Say That? -- Language, Conflict, and Intercultural Communication in the 21st Century (4.00)

"It's not what you say, but how you say it." In a world where we often prioritize our differences over our similarities, effective leadership means learning to approach crucial conversations and interpersonal conflict with poise, finesse, and empathy. But how exactly do we alter our speech and behavior to satisfy the how required by the circumstances? How do we effectively communicate our position across the metaphorical borders of difference?

This course will explore intercultural communication strategies through a sociolinguistic lens to equip students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to solve interpersonal conflict. We will review, analyze, and critique various topics and theories including the process and function of communication in intercultural conflicts, the relationship between language and society, theories of conflict styles, constructions of culture, communities of practice theory, and proxemics. We will pair our study of intercultural communication theories with case studies of leaders in various geographic, socioeconomic, and sociolinguistic landscapes to examine how they traversed sociolinguistic boundaries to solve intercultural conflicts and reach solutions. The course will expect students to engage in individual and group assignments and reflections designed to help them engage with a variety of linguistic frameworks for approaching crucial conversations. By the close of the course, students will be able to identify their own conflict resolution style, cope with the styles of others, articulate their beliefs about relevant sociolinguistic theories, and apply intercultural communication strategies to real-world, interpersonal conflicts. 

Taught by Imani Young Bey.

LDR-101 (Drinkwater): Epic Journeys, Epic Leadership (4.00)

This seminar will explore models of leadership in epic literature of the ancient Mediterranean as well as modern works that take inspiration from them. Throughout these stories of warriors and refugees run central questions that face us today, like "What kind of leader would you be?" and "Who would you want to follow?" We will consider the leadership of Homer's Agamemnon, Achilles, Odysseus, and Penelope; Apollonius' Jason, Hypsiplye, and Medea; Virgil's Aeneas and Dido, among others, exploring the models of leadership in these texts present. In addition, we will discuss how other authors-- ancient and modern-- comment on these ancient modes of leadership in their reinterpretations of these "classic" texts. Whether in the works of Euripides, James McBride, Madeline Miller, Ovid, Amor Towles, or Jesmyn Ward, we will trace how the ancient epic leaders color the literary world of today as we journey across time and space together.

Taught by Megan Drinkwater.

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 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 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 (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 Facebook.

Taught by James Stamant.

LDR-101 (Jennings): Nature and Public Health - A Nexus for Leadership Development (4.00)

This course will explore how one’s relationship with nature can become an avenue to cultivate identity, personal reflection, health promotion, and leadership development. As nature can be linked to multiple physical, social, and psychological health benefits, we will examine various strategies to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and application to current topics. Different examples on the role of nature-based social movements in cultivating inclusive leadership development, community building, and advocacy are explored. Course materials will include readings, media content, and videos. Students will draw on literature from environmental health, outdoor education, and leadership development to recommend an outdoor engagement activity for the college.

Taught by Viniece Jennings.

LDR-101 (Bivens): Psychoanalysis and the Arts (4.00)

How can psychoanalysis aid our understanding of the arts? This class explores a wide range of art forms—literature, film, music, the visual arts, and popular culture—with the help of psychoanalytic concepts. Think Hitchcock’s Psycho, surrealist art in Latin America, abstract painting at the High Museum, automatons, and plenty of ghosts. We will interpret artworks in relation to themes ranging from the unconscious and repression to dreams, humor, mental illness, fantasy, the uncanny, childhood, death, and sexuality. Class assignments are both analytic and creative: students will write papers, create a podcast episode, and curate a (fictional) art exhibition. Our aim is to build strong skills in close reading and interpreting the arts, familiarity with Sigmund Freud’s writings, and a sense of how culture can help us understand the joys and struggles of modern society and everyday life. Throughout the course, we will connect art and psychoanalysis to leadership. Psychoanalysis can guide leaders who are sensitive to others’ needs and motivations, for example, or who want to foster caring, supportive communities.

Taught by Becky Bivens.

LDR-101 (Cain): Race, Gender and Social Change: Case Studies of Women's Leadership in US History (4.00)

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 change 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. 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.

Taught by Mary Cain.

LDR-101 (Pippin): Religion and Economic Justice (4.00)

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 (n (2017-present, both at the national and local level), along with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers are the foundational religious movements dealing with food insecurity/hunger, poverty wages and wage theft, labor abuses, and human trafficking. In this course we will study leadership concepts by looking at worker justice globally and locally, along with poverty and homelessness with and through a practicum experience with our community partner Decatur Community Ministry’s Hagar's House, a shelter for families across the street from Agnes Scott, and within an increasingly-gentrifying Decatur. We will examine systemic oppression, movement building for social change, and engage change agents and leaders in the economic justice movement.

Taught by Tina Pippin.

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 (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.

Back to top