Leadership in Public and Nonprofit Organizations

It doesn’t take a presidential election, a major recession, wars turned sour or any other major event to know that leadership matters. In this broad survey, we touch upon a number of key aspects of leadership to help understand what the term means and why it seems to be so critical in every aspect of modern life - business and commerce, non-profit management, government, religion, etc.

To do so, we go back in time and examine how leadership has been viewed through the ages, taking a close look at modern theories of leadership since the field truly developed with its own distinct focus and methods in the 20th century. Along the way, we consider such special topics as the role of minorities and women in leadership studies, and the extent to which our thoughts about leadership are universal or instead a function of our specific time and our culture.

Moreover, students in the course hone in on a nonprofit leadership case study in order to move from the abstract to the real world so as to begin the process of assembling a leadership toolkit to aid them in whatever kind of work they do.

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Discuss why commentators have often concluded that we have a crisis of leadership or a leadership gap, and why some view it as important to address the problem.
  • Understand some of the ways leadership has been envisioned historically.
  • Explain the main contours of leadership thinking and theory in the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Discuss the relationship between a universal idea of leadership and one that is more culture-bound.
  • Articulate some of the special issues faced by minorities and women as regards leadership.
  • Explain some of the changes in business, economy and society that have driven leadership thinking in new directions in the late 20th century, and what the results have been in terms of new leadership ideas.
  • Identify a number of items in a leader’s toolkit as well as reflect on how anyone might employ them.
  • Use the materials to reflect on their own goals as a leader.

Students from all sectors and in any position in their organization are welcome to take the course.

This course is not being offered in the Summer 2014 and Fall 2014 semesters.