Creating Leaders in the Classroom during the January Term

Course Offers Opportunity for Students to Strengthen Leadership Capabilities
Stefanie Chambers, associate professor of political science, and Raekwon Wheeler '18, a student in Chambers' "Envisioning Yourself as a Leader" course.
Hartford, CT, March 3, 2015 – What if an island in the Caribbean were faced with an outbreak of a contagious virus with minimal vaccines and you were the leader in charge? What would you do? Would you try to save everyone or only the young ones? These are the kinds of questions that students were faced with as case studies in developing their leadership capabilities during the  January Term class “Envisioning Yourself as a Leader.” The course gave students the opportunity to think through the different angles of being a leader. The class was taught by Stefanie Chambers, associate professor of political science. Her teaching approach was Socratic, which gave students the ability to talk about their ideas openly. The class was full of discussions, readings, presentations, guest speakers, case studies, and a final portfolio. 


People usually think of a leader as someone who leads or commands a group. In this class, participants were able to learn that leadership is actually a process in which the leader influences a team and works to create a coherent group. The class examined different characteristics of leaders such as responsible, dedicated, loyal, social, and many more. One of the students, Raekwon Wheeler ’18, said, “The leadership seminar was a great opportunity to assess your skills as a leader and find ways to improve your weaknesses and apply your strengths. We learned about the different aspects of being a leader and were able to discover what type of leader we have the potential to become.” The class helped cultivate students’ leadership skills and sharpen other skills.

The class included presentations from Trinity alumni who have leadership roles in their professions. “We had an absolutely incredible lineup of alumni guests representing business, medicine, the nonprofit sector, and government service,” said Chambers. “They helped contextualize the major arguments and theories in the leadership studies literature.  More importantly, they shared their leadership philosophies and expressed a genuine interest in supporting our current students.  Their real-world experience truly enriched the course and showcased the exceptional leadership skills among our graduates.” This aspect of the course transformed it from a half-credit class into a powerful tool that will help students develop their post-graduation plans.

Written by Maddie Perez ’15. Photos by John Atashian.