Student-led research

In the Spring of 2014, ten undergraduate students from the Comprehensive Leadership Program were afforded the opportunity to present research at the 2nd Annual Gonzaga University Leadership Studies Student Research Symposium. This research was done either through classes they had taken or independently, and corresponded with facets and aspects of leadership studies that intrigued them.

            Leadership studies is an emerging discipline (some say transdiscipline) that is, at its very heart, an amalgam of multiple academic disciplines’ inquiry into the motivations, practices, and purposes of human influences and powers at the individual, organizational, and collective levels. Covering a multitude of perspectives and discourses, leadership studies at Gonzaga attempts to square the circle of paradox and confusion resulting from the clash and conflict of the humanities and the social and natural sciences. Founded on the Ignation and Jesuit values of reflection, discernment and care of the person, the leadership studies curriculum is intended to facilitate a deep and meaningful dialogue into the perplexities of our species’ ebb and flow between leading and following.

            The ten CLP students involved in the Leadership Symposium were Lucia Baldwin, Michaela Brown, J. Blake Carr, Joe Decker, Brady Essman, Lauren Ferguson, Conner House, Nick Mamolo, Constanza Ponce de Leon, and Liliana Ramos. Their corresponding research, as described in the symposium program, is listed below:

Lucia Baldwin, Conner House and Liliana Ramos - Zambia Gold: Lessons in Accompaniment.

“We will present on our student led, non-profit business, Zambia Gold, an organization that sells honey and other merchandise in relationship with the communities in Zambia. We will share this service project, and the methodology behind it, present the ideology and research that crafted the mindset of this service-modeled business, by considering the concepts of accompaniment theory, servant leadership, and authentic leadership, and how they relate to a dynamically changing face of international service. Additionally, we will share our experiences, in Zambia, and within Zambia Gold, in order to present the holistic and evolving work we are doing. We seek to address the question of why we, undergraduate students, have been changed by the stories we heard and were a part of, and how these have shaped our desires to be men and women who strive to walk alongside others, towards goals of sustainability, economic justice, and shared humanity.”

Michaela BrownChanging Perceptions: Empowerment Through Attachment in the Transformation of Urban Communities

“Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.” – G.K. Chesterton. What role does the leader play in the transformation of America’s urban communities? This paper, inspired by the works of G.K. Chesterton and Jane Jacobs, takes a historical look at the degradation of America’s cities during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, while optimistically exploring contemporary solutions to America’s ever present urban crisis. Using America’s Leadership Foundation’s socio-spiritual model as a case study, we find that the reconciliation of a city’s inhabitants to their city, through a renewed sense of attachment and investment is necessary in the transformation and renewal of our American cities.”

J. Blake CarrA Dialogue about Dialogue

“The object of this roundtable is to explore the essence of dialogue. In creating a sacred space for dialogue to be practiced, this discussion will be facilitated by several intentionally guided questions. Why is dialogue important and what comes as a result of it? How is dialogue different from argumentation and what can it teach us about acknowledging failure through vulnerability? Where is there value in exercising silence within dialogue? As leaders in a Jesuit and humanistic institution why is dialogue important in our call to be persons for others? How can dialogue help us to negotiate an awareness of global and local issues with grassroots activism? In the discussion, I intend to share thoughts from the likes of Parker Palmer, Jonathan Reams, and Ron Heifetz among others.”

Joe Decker, Nick Mamolo, and Constanza Ponce de LeonA Critical Analysis of Tim Hortons’ DNA and Proposed Leadership Strategies for International Expansion

“In October of 2013 three undergraduate students in the Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP) competed and won first place in the International Leadership Association’s Undergraduate Case Study Competition. Teams from sixteen different universities were asked to analyze the current leadership and challenges present within the Tim Horton’s business model, and what would need to change or remain the same in order to achieve successful international expansion.

Through extensive research and application of leadership theories, we theorized that by focusing on intentional adaptive strategies rather than technical solutions, Tim Horton’s can successfully export their concept and culture on an international scale, but only after a conscious strengthening of the company’s three vital DNA components. Through the application of Ron Heifetz’s theory for successful change in a business or organization, we assessed the structures crucial to Tim Horton’s historical success, the company’s present state of stagnation and disequilibrium, and the vital leadership styles and innovations they must incorporate for continued growth.”

Brady EssmannLet Her Speak: The Effect of Disclaimers in Communication on Perceptions of Leadership in Collegiate Settings

“The purpose of this presentation is to examine the power differential taking place in the past two centuries in the context of communication and leadership. Do communication styles reflect perceptions of qualification and ability? Is one specific ‘style’ of communication considered the language of power, favored and privileged over another? Based on research, does gender and societal construction play any role in these styles of communication? Specifically, this research will focus on the exclusive use of disclaiming statements in the classroom (‘I don’t know if this is right, but…’ or ‘This is probably wrong, but…’). According to the 2012 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership, females on Gonzaga’s campus scored higher than their male counterparts on scales outlining leadership competency, yet scored lower in leadership efficacy (confidence in leading others) and aspirations than men. As a University, what is our duty to help align skewed self-perceptions with the reality of leadership competency?”

Lauren FergusonMoved to Lead

“Through a facilitated discussion I hope to explore the topic of leadership within the arts, specifically how it is manifested in the art of dance. The inspiration for this discussion topic stems from personal experience of teaching, choreographing, and engaging in dance outlets. These various exposures to dance have presented many opportunities to lead and witness leadership in action, all of which have both supported and challenged my notions of leadership, specifically servant leadership. I intend to present questions that aim to answer an overarching question of: How does the leadership modeled in the dance community compare to the values and practice of servant leadership? While the inspiration derives from experience with dance, I hope to connect the discussion to other art forms or movement such as sports. Throughout the discussion I plan to weave together concepts and lessons gained from the Comprehensive Leadership Program and the topic at hand.”

Click here to read more about the original research that Lauren Ferguson presented at the Spokane Intercollegiate Research Conference.