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Stanford juniors to explore leadership in new September Studies program

Leadership Intensive will become Stanford's fifth September Studies program, joining Arts Intensive, Bing Honors College, Sophomore College and Leland Scholars.

L.A. Cicero Al Camarillo

History Professor Al Camarillo is the faculty director of the new Leadership Intensive program.

Stanford has chosen two dozen juniors to take part in the inaugural Leadership Intensive, a three-week program in early September designed to offer a unique, immersive exploration of the complexities of leadership.

History Professor Albert Camarillo, faculty director of Leadership Intensive, said Stanford wanted to provide a special academic program for juniors.

"Leadership Intensive is earmarked for juniors, because we want to do something for them at the moment they are making an intellectual commitment to their majors and minors," said Camarillo, the Leon Sloss Jr. Memorial Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

"We want to infuse their Stanford experience with an understanding of leadership as they start carving their paths, first, with their majors and, second, with their lives," he said.

Leadership Intensive, a three-year pilot program, will become Stanford's fifth September Studies program, joining Arts Intensive, Bing Honors College, Sophomore College and Leland Scholars. Under the programs, students arrive early on campus, before the start of fall quarter, and live in campus residence halls.

Camarillo said Leadership Intensive reflects a recommendation of the 2012 Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) to develop programs for rising juniors. It was specifically designed to address two of the study's four goals of a Stanford education: honing skills and capabilities, and cultivating personal and social responsibility.

In pitching the program to prospective students, Camarillo said he told them, "It will demystify what you think leadership entails and complicate it dramatically."

The students, who will sometimes be clustered into interest groups, will focus on the challenges facing leaders working for the public good in four arenas: the environment, global social justice, education and health.

"It's clear from their applications that these young people are very passionate about a variety of issues," Camarillo said. "We want them to be equipped to take that passion and use it in a way that will make a difference somewhere in the world."

Speakers, readings, resources

Students will interact with groundbreaking leaders, including 2012 graduate Erica Fernandez, an environmental activist who has won several leadership awards; Julie Hanna, chair of the board of Kiva, the world's largest micro-lending marketplace; and Jane Lubchenco, an environmental scientist and marine ecologist at Oregon State University who served as the first female under-secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Lubchenco served as the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at the Haas Center for Public Service in spring 2013.)

Each speaker represents someone at a different stage of life and career. They were chosen to highlight the fact that leadership is not a title, but a skill that can manifest at any time, in any role. Camarillo said each of the guest speakers has taken a different path to leadership.

"Some of them may not even have realized they were becoming leaders as they pursued their research or interests, or tackled local, national or global problems," he said. "We would like them to tell their stories, so students will see there are many ways that leadership manifests itself."

Students in the program will read four books:

  • The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Becoming an Exemplary Leader, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
  •  Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, by Tom and David Kelley
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath

Lisa Bilgen, associate director of Leadership Intensive, said the books represent three critical aspects of the program.

"We'll be presenting to the students a leadership model – Student Leadership Challenge; emphasizing their ability to work in diverse groups – Quiet; and exposing them to a cutting-edge strategy for solution finding and transformative change – Creative Confidence and Switch."

Stanford faculty from all seven schools will take part in the program as consultants on student projects and as speakers in daily plenary sessions.

Students also will work with faculty from several campus entities, including the Stanford Red Barn Leadership Program, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Stanford Storytelling Project.

Instructors from the Stanford Design Program will teach students the basic principles of "design thinking," a process for producing creative solutions to challenges large or small, personal or professional. There also will be several sessions on building skills related to "emotional intelligence," the ability to understand other people and oneself.

At the end of the program, Stanford will help the students chart paths for their junior and senior years with resources for helping them seek internships, design capstone projects and even be awarded grants to get their own projects off the ground, Bilgen said. Ten such grants will be available to this year's cohort of two-dozen students.

"Advising sessions, workshops, events and weekly seminars will be available for the students throughout their junior and senior years, allowing the cohort to continue to learn from each other and build on the skills acquired during the program," she said.

The new program will join a variety of undergraduate leadership programs at Stanford, including the yearlong Public Service Leadership Program of the Haas Center for Public Service and the 10-week course Interpersonal Learning & Leadership, required for students who want to serve as resident assistants in the dorms.