Developing Non-Hierarchical Leadership On Campus

Many problems that plague modern American society, including disappearance of community, decaying inner cities, racial tensions, environmental degradation, declining civic engagement, and the increasing ineffectiveness of government, to name a few, are in many respects problems of leadership. Leadership means not only what elected and appointed public officials do, but also the critically important civic work performed by those individual citizens who are actively engaged in making a positive difference in society. Clearly, one of the major problems with contemporary civic life in America is that too few of our citizens are actively engaged in efforts to effect positive social change. Educators seldom acknowledge higher education’s possible contribution to these problems or the role that it might play in alleviating them. Colleges and universities provide rich opportunities for developing leaders through the curriculum and co-curriculum. Co-curricular experiences not only support and augment the students’ formal classroom and curricular experience, but can also create powerful learning opportunities for leadership development through collaborative group projects that serve the institution or the community. These projects can be implemented through service learning, residential living, community work, and student organizations.