Author

Shaye Ellis

Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Joanne Ciulla

Abstract

“Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena.” Despite his extensive research and knowledge in the field, James MacGregor Burns still professes the complexity of the concept of leadership. The abstract nature of the topic does not lend itself to a brief synopsis or a limited understanding of a specific aspect of leadership. In many ways it eludes being confined to a particular category and exists across and between different academic disciplines. In the absence of a prescribed curriculum or method of study, institutions of higher education establish programs and departments that disseminate a distinct model or interpretation of leadership. These specialized courses, concentrations, or majors dilute the wide range of intricacies and nuances that make leadership more complex than other disciplines into a manageable, even predictable, topic. Where math and science rely on finite values, proven theorems, and formulas, the study of leadership often relies on subjective analysis and theories about human behavior and relationships. What then is the approach best-suited for learning about what prominent scholars, like Burns, call a “phenomenon” rather than a discipline or subject? Based on the strength and diversity of the associated disciplines and the wealth of history to support the value of these studies in the development of citizens, the liberal arts are a perfect complement to the study of both leaders and the practice of leadership.

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