|May 10, 2001
Volume 31 Number 16
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
Preparing New Leaders
Minor trains leaders for a changing world
In a world where political, economic, and social changes occur rapidly, leaders need to be prepared -- and universities need to prepare future leaders. A new minor, begun last fall at CSU, Chico, aims to help students gain a broad perspective on leadership principles and practices and to further develop their own leadership skills.
The idea for the minor in leadership studies was germinated in 1999, when Provost Scott McNall and Jim Morgan, Management, attended a session on leadership programs at the Lilly Conference on Teaching. A minor in leadership studies appeared to be the most interesting possi-bility for offering leadership studies, said Morgan.
"For decades, our students have been recognized for their leadership abilities," said Morgan. "Many come to campus with leadership skills well developed, but all have the potential to develop further what leadership skills are within them. In a world changing as rapidly as the one we live in today, it makes even greater sense to provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills that will benefit them in their careers and in their lives."
In summer 1999, Morgan attended another leadership conference, and McNall, then-Vice Provost Sara Armstrong, and others formed a task force to develop the minor. Within a year, the minor was formed, honed, and then approved by the Academic Senate. Ruth Guzley, Communication Arts and Sciences, who has held various corporate leadership positions and taught leadership classes at CSU, Chico, was appointed its first coordinator.
"Our focus, which was the vision of the task force, culminates in the notion that leadership in the 21st century cannot follow the same path that it has followed in the past," remarked Guzley. "We live in a different world where -- as leadership scholar Jean Lipman-Blumen notes -- interdependence and diversity represent contradictory forces. The biggest challenge for leaders is balancing interdependence and diversity. Leadership effectiveness today relies on the ability to make strong connections between diverse groups."
Currently, four students are enrolled in the interdisciplinary leadership minor, one from agriculture and three from organizational communication, and other students are taking some of the classes. Guzley has been spending time developing ties with a number of different departments. "We truly want it to be interdisciplinary," she noted.
The minor also includes an internship where the students are involved in leadership activities. Student Sonia Armas is interning with Nan Timmons at CAVE. "Sonia wants to develop her leadership skills in the volunteer setting because she thinks that on some level she would like to work in a nonprofit organization," explained Guzley. "Nan has introduced her to members of the community, taken her to meetings where leaders in the community are involved so that she can get acquainted with them. She's also leading meetings at CAVE. It's not a traditional internship; she's actually shadowing Nan to see what it's like to be a leader in a setting that includes volunteers from a variety of areas."
At a recent session of one of the new classes created for the minor (University 200, capstone seminar in leadership studies), the students discussed youth and leadership. The students, who developed the syllabus and all the readings and assignments for the class, take turns leading the class discussions. Lisa DeVore, the leader for this session, opened the discussion with the question "What does youth leadership mean?" The group recalled various leadership experiences they had had when they were younger, such as doing volunteer work and participating in high school student government elections.
The class discussed a reading that DeVore had selected for the session, "Columbine as Catalyst: Teens Discover New Leadership Roles." Graduate student Mark Wasden recalled being in Littleton after the Columbine tragedy and learning from his brother how youth leaders had stepped forward in the wake of the events and made their voices heard.
"The discussions that have taken place in our class so far have had significant impact on me," said Gregory Pierson, a graduate student in interdisciplinary studies taking the class. "I have really taken a look at what my opinions are and why I hold them. Having this experience will help me in my career situations because I will be faced with all kinds of challenges, and the earlier in life I can become comfortable in challenging my own thinking, the better."
For more information about the leadership minor, call Ruth Guzley at x4772.Marion Harmon
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