Around twenty years ago, I joined the faculty of the University of Richmond to help design the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.The easiest way to understand Jepson is as a liberal arts school with an explicit focus on the study of leadership. Our students take courses in history, philosophy, psychology, political science, and so on. These courses draw on the methodology and content of a discipline to understand leadership as a phenomenon and a practice. So as a school, we are multidisciplinary and some of our classes are interdisciplinary. By taking a liberal art approach to leadership studies, the Jepson School is not doing anything new, but rather reapplying the original intent of liberal arts education, which was not to learn a craft or useful skill, but to acquire knowledge that is good in itself and to educate citizens to live and make choices in a free society (Jaeger, 1986). Hence, the Jepson School is as much about the liberal arts as it is about leadership studies. In this chapter, I will briefly discuss the place of leadership studies in the liberal arts and then go on to describe the development of the Jepson School and how, from its inception to today, it grapples with the practical and philosophical challenges of being a liberal arts school of leadership studies.

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Copyright (c) 2011 Edward Elgar. This book chapter first appeared in Leadership Studies: the Dialogue of Disciplines.

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