Rebecca Blanton, Instructor
phone: (718) 399-1054
This class seeks to introduce you to different concepts and components of leadership. It will also examine the practical aspects of leadership in an urban environment. To achieve these goals, we will spend time in the classroom examining the different theories of leadership and components that make good leaders. We will read biographies of people who have been leaders and apply the concepts we study to their biographies. Finally, you will be in touch with leaders in your community to see how they utilize different concepts of leadership to achieve action.
At the end of this course, you should be familiar with the different types of leadership structures and theories of what makes a good leader. You should be familiar with several leaders in the New York area. You should have spent some time in your community with a community leader discussing their organization and their view of leadership. Finally, you should have gained experience in interviewing people and academic writing.
The course structure is based on the goals stated above. We will meet twice a week to discuss various readings about leadership and leaders. You will need to read all the assigned readings prior to coming to class. The assigned reading provide the basis for the class discussions and work we will do in class. You will not be able to effectively participate if you do not prepare.
Students in the class will be required to complete a field work component. You will be out in your communities, talking with people who are in leadership positions about the materials we covered in class and how they view leadership.
You will be required to do writing assignments on a routine basis to prepare for your field work and course work. You will be expected to complete all writing assignments on time. You will be expected to read other students writing and have other students read your assignments.
This is a three unit course. I expect that students attend class on a regular basis and that they will allow 4-6 hours a week for work outside the classroom
Readings: There are three required books for this class, listed below. These books will make up the core of our reading list. You will need to buy the books and bring them to class for discussion. The few articles and book chapters listed will be handed out in class. You are expected to do all assigned reading prior to the class session.
Writing: You will have a series of six written assignments due throughout the semester. Five of these will be shorter, Preparation assignments. The final writing assignment will consist of a full write up and analysis of the interviews conducted with community leaders. The Preparation assignments be 3-4 pages each. The final write up of the fieldwork will be a 10-12 page paper.
Field Work:: You will be required to identify a leader in your community. This person may be the head of a not-for-profit organization, an elected official, a block organizer, the head of the PTA or a leader in the business world. You will be required to interview this person, at least once, about their views on leadership and how they approach leading people. You will be required to write up a semi-structured interview and complete back ground research prior to the interview. At the end of the class, you will write up the field work assignment in a 10-12 page paper.
Exams: The field work will be the main focus during the semester. At the end of the course, you will take a final exam that will focus on the readings we covered in class. The final will be cumulative and it will be an essay exam.
Attendance: You are expected to come to class on time. This class starts late in the evening, and there is little excuse for being late. It is inconsiderate to your classmates and disruptive to the class. While I understand that, on the rare occasion, someone may run late, persistent or excessive lateness will not be tolerated.
Late Papers: Late papers, in general, are not acceptable. The Preparation papers will be the basis for class discussions and group exercises. If you do not have your paper completed, you cannot participate in class. These papers will also provide the basis for your final paper. The first 4 Preparation assignments will not be accepted for credit after the date they are due.
The draft of the interview is necessary to complete the fieldwork. You will need to revise it based on the classroom feedback. Because this is an essential research tool for your fieldwork, you must turn it in before completing your interview. If, due to an extreme circumstance, you cannot turn in the interview on the day due, it will be accepted late. However, you will be docked one full letter grade for each day, or portion of a day that the paper is late. This will include weekends and holidays.
The final paper will not be accepted late. You should plan your interview and writing schedule accordingly.
Please, make a back up of your paper on your hard drive, on a disk, and print out a copy of your draft as you work on it. This will prevent loss of the paper in the case that one of these devices fails.
5 Preparation Writing Assignments
Exercise 1 15 points
Exercise 2 15 points
Exercise 3 15 points
Exercise 4 15 points
Exercise 5 40 points
TOTAL 100 points
Field Work Write Up 100 points
Final Exam 100 points
Revised Reading List
Janis, Irving (1982). Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decision s and Fiascoes.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Janis, Irving and Mann, L. (1998). Crucial Decisions: Leadership in Policy Making and Crisis Management
. Vol. 0. New York: Free Press.
Kirtzman, Andrew (2000). Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City.
New York: William Morrow.
3/13 Defining Leadership and its Components
Greenstein, Fred (2001). “George W. Bush and the Ghosts of Presidents Past.: PS: Political Science and Politics, 34(1):77-80.
Crucial Decisions (CD). Ch. 1
3/18 Decision Making: Simplistic Strategies
CD Chapters 2-4
3/20 Sound Decision Making Practices
CD Chapters 3-4
3/25 NO CLASS: cancellation
3/27 NO CLASS: Spring Break
4/01 NO CLASS: Spring Break
4/03 Vigilant Problem Solving
CD Ch. 5
Preparation Assignment 1 Due
4/08 Decision Making Framework
CD Ch. 7
4/10 Who Will Be Good Decision Makers
CD Ch. 5
Preparation Assignment 2 Due
4/15 Effective Leadership Practices
CD Ch. 10
Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (1981). “The Framing of Decision and Psychology of Choice.” Science, 211: 453-458.
4/22 Groupthink: An Introduction
GT Ch. 1
Preparation Assignment 3 Due
4/24 A Perfect Failure: Bay of Pigs
GT Ch. 2
4/29 Counterpoint to Group Think: Cuban Missile Crisis
GT Ch. 6
5/1 Groupthink Syndrome
GT Ch. 8
Preparation Assignment 4 Due
5/6 Generalizations and Preventing Groupthink
GT Ch. 10-11
5/8 Heroic and Reflective Leadership
Renshon, Stanley A. (2002). American’s Second Civil War. forthcoming.
5/13 Lincoln and the Challenge of Succession
Potter, David M. (1942). Lincoln and His Part in the Secession Crisis. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. Ch. 7
5/15 Case Study in Leadership: Giuliani
Giuliani, Ch. 1-2
Writing Assignment 5: Draft of Field Work Interview Due
5/20 Guiliani, Ch. 3-4
5/22 Giuliani, Ch. 5-6
5/27 Giuliani, Ch.7-8
5/29 Giuliani, Ch. 9-10
6/3 Giuliani, Ch. 11-13
6/5 Field Work Paper Due: Class Presentation
6/1 Class Presentation
Preparation Assignment 1: Identity a leader in your community you would like to interview. Write up a brief (3-4 page) biography of this person. Include what their current position is, what they have done in the past that is relevant to their current leadership position, and what personal information that may be relevant. You may also want to include information about the organization they are a leader in and why this person was chosen to lead the organization.
Preparation Assignment 2: Identify the organization the person works for. Research how the organization is structured. What are the goals of the organization? How is the organization structured? Who is the leader responsible for reporting to (a board of directors? a boss? community leaders? the public?). What is the history of the organization? How did it start? Have the goals changed? How many members do they currently have?
Write up a brief (3-4) page history of the organization, bringing it to the present day. Concentrate on the highlights of this history.
Predatory Assignment 3: Using local newspapers, magazines and community newsletters, research what the leader and their organization is doing in the community. Concentrate on identifying the major issues they are currently engaged in and any community mobilizing or involvement. Address how the goals of the organization have shaped the choice of the current issues. Concentrate on what the leader you are interested in has done recently to motive and mobilize the organization.
Write up a 3-4 page summary of the findings.
Preparation Assignment 4: Review your last three assignments and come up with a list of three major issues the organization is involved in. These may be community or political issues. This may also be a restructuring or internal changes of the organization. It may include their relationship with other groups or the press.
For each issue, identify what has happened in the last six months. What have been the major actions or decisions on the issue.
For each of the three issues, identify what role, if any, the leader may have had.
Then, come up with a list of questions that are still unanswered by your research. Submit this in a 3-4 page write up.
Preparation Assignment 5: Utilizing your research to date, construct a semi-structured questionnaire that you will use to interview your chosen leader. Focus on two or three leadership practices we have discussed in class. Try to link questions of leadership practice to the issues that the leader and their organization is working on. When you are writing the questions, keep in mind, you are trying to figure out how this person negotiates their position of leadership and what their cognitive style is.
You should limit the number of questions to fit the amount of time you have for the interview. If you think you will reasonably be able to speak with this person for 10 minutes, you should get right to the point. If you are lucky enough to be able to interview the person for a half an hour or 45 minutes, be sure to have enough to talk about.
Bring this interview in a written format to class.
Interview Write Up: You should use the research you have accumulated in the first four Preparation exercises to give a background of who you are interviewing, their organization and how they are working in their community. The second part of your paper should introduce the main questions about the practice of leadership you will focus on and give some information on the theory behind these questions. The third part of the paper should present the findings of the interview and how they answers the questions posed in the second part of the paper.