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An Analysis of Leadership: Drinking the Kool-Aid

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1877
Section 001
Instructor Benjamin Brooks
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



What is leadership? The calls for more "leadership" and the need for "better" leaders are refrains used with great frequency in the public sphere, but with very little substantive understanding of what the callers are actually seeking. What do we mean by a word that is applied to both Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr.? Is leadership a unique set of traits ordained from birth that resides within the individual? Is leadership a set of skills that any individual can develop? Is it an ethical stance or only calculated by action and result? Is the role of leader assigned or is it fluid and meritocratic? Does leadership even reside within an individual or is it a relationship between individuals in a group context? This course will not give students a blueprint to becoming an effective leader, but will instead use case studies to critically interrogate what we mean when we talk about leadership. We will explore the contextual and dynamic nature of leadership, and concepts commonly related to leadership, such as culture, race, gender, charisma, competence, decision-making, trust, ethics, and power. The cases we analyze include Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany, Jim Jones's People's Temple, Edward Snowden's leaking of NSA files, the rise and fall of Enron, Hillary Clinton's past and present runs for the presidency, the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and Rudy Giuliani's actions as mayor before and after 9/11.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)