Growing leaders

New interdisciplinary minor plays to Tufts’ strengths

The faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering has approved a new interdisciplinary minor in leadership studies that will be offered starting in fall 2008.

Undergraduates will be able to take courses in a variety of disciplines that will count toward the leadership minor. Students pursuing the minor will also have to complete a capstone senior project involving a leadership experience or a senior thesis on leadership.

“This is what Tufts is about,” said George Norman, the William and Joyce Cummings Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business Economics, who served on the faculty steering committee that created the proposal for the new minor. The leadership minor “plays to Tufts’ intellectual strengths.”

The genesis of the program comes from the work of Arts & Sciences Dean Robert Sternberg. A psychologist who has written extensively on leadership, Sternberg expressed a desire to develop a minor in leadership studies shortly after he came to Tufts in 2005. The field is already the subject of many structured academic programs within higher education and of scholarship in peer-reviewed journals.

“We want to get students thinking about leadership from a multidisciplinary point of view,” Norman said. “There are many different ways to think about leadership within the arts, humanities and sciences.”

To fulfill the minor, students will be required to take five courses, drawn from a list of approved “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” offerings, which are currently being finalized. In their senior year, students must engage in a practical leadership capstone experience, attend a half-credit pass/fail seminar in which they reflect on their leadership experience and write a paper linking their experience to the theories and issues covered in their coursework.

Students participating in programs such as the Institute for Global Leadership, University Scholars Program, Reserve Officers Training Corps and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program may apply to have that experience count as the capstone.

—Helene Ragovin

This story ran in the June 2007 issue of the Tufts Journal.