LEAD 425
Senior Seminar: Leadership and the Anxieties of Democracy Spring 2025
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed PSCI 357

Class Details

This course, the senior capstone for Leadership Studies, examines the challenges and opportunities facing political leaders in contemporary liberal democracies. We will begin by seeking to place our current moment in the longer arc of history, examining the distinctive institutional and structural constraints facing contemporary political leaders and examining in detail previous eras in which the American political system has come under great pressure. Then, we will look at some important factors that shape how followers approach would-be leaders: inequality and economic precarity; identity and group consciousness; notions of membership, community, and hierarchy; and fraying institutions. While the course will focus primarily on the United States, our conceptual framework will be global. Our primary questions will be these: Why does transformative leadership seem so difficult today? How does political leadership in the 21st century differ from leadership in earlier eras? What conditions are necessary to sustain effective leadership in the contemporary world? As a final assignment, students will craft an 18-20-page research paper on a topic of their choice related to the themes of the course.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 14
Expected: 14
Class#: 3140
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Seminar participation, research proposal, peer workshop, research paper, in-class research presentation
Prerequisites: LEAD 155 or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Open to Leadership Studies concentrators or with the permission of the instructor; preference given to Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
LEAD 425 Division II PSCI 357 Division II
WS Notes: Students receive iterative feedback on their research projects: Their initial proposals receive substantive feedback from fellow students as well as substantive and stylistic feedback from the professor looking toward a formal proposal; and their formal proposals receive extensive comments from both the professor and a student colleague looking toward the final paper. The students will submit writing for feedback the third week of March, the third week of April, and the third week of May.
Attributes: LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
POEC Depth
POEC Skills
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Research Courses

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