Sunday, August 19, 2012

On Academic Leadership

"In our first two weeks, you have read several articles, seen several videos and been engaged in several discussions related to the concept of academic leadership. At this point, and in your own words, what does the concept mean to you? What subjects or interests do you have a sophisticated, intellectual understanding of that you may want to turn into a major academic project in this class? How do people sometimes abuse academic knowledge to manipulate others? How would you feel if someone used your work to manipulate others (as Jared Diamond claims Mitt Romney has)? How can creating academically sophisticated, intellectual leaders help prevent such people from taking advantage of others the way they do? How can this create a stronger democratic society?"

 As defined by John W. Gardner, leadership can be seen as the process of persuasion or by example which an individual, or a leadership team, induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or hers followers. Analyzing leadership under an academic perspective may result in a concept where it really stands for the ability to lead people in different ways, during different activities, and connect any ability a person my have as an academic advantage- its requires the skills to lead by example and involves multiple strengths of each person, thus allowing for anyone to become an academic leader. Extending the idea about leaders and their diverse abilities, I would like to incorporate some of that into the portfolio I must do this year. For my Personal Project, I have had quite a few different ideas, and I have narrowed them down to connecting something that has to do with dance and history- yet, I would also like to have a social application to my project, something that could apply it to my community- or a relation between biology and dancing. I have not been able to choose between these two ideas for the moment, though there is plenty of time and I know I will do something that involves dance, my only question is with what and how am I going to clash it with my project. For my first option, I would probably do something related to the origin of dances and how they influenced society and each other. If I chose my second option, perhaps it would have something to do with what types of exercises could be used to optimize ones abilities and capacities in order for the extreme dancer- it would have something related to the necessary exercises for muscle strengthening and the required dance basis (mostly classic) for such goal to be achieved. There are still various aspects that I need to revise before making my final choice, and yet I am already leaning towards involving history, social studies and dance for my project.

 If I was ever caught up in a situation such as that between Jared Diamond and Mitt Romney, I would have perhaps done exactly what Diamond did- only it might have included suing Romney for using my work without my consent and improperly. If he had sited his sources and used the information correctly, I believe I would not have minded- yet, not only did he put himself in a complicated position, but he also made transmitted the wrong idea about somebody else’s work. If only Romney had properly read the book and used its information in the correct manner, all this confusion could have been avoided- and he would have fulfilled his position as an academically sophisticated leader, which most certainly would solve the problems of people taking advantages of other’s work. In this case, for instance, Romney would have read the book, cited it correctly and used the information for as a source of information and not a manipulative tool, all issues could have been avoided. In addition, if the world was led by intellectual leaders, maybe they would not see the need to manipulate the people in the way that so many politicians do, given that they would want to be evaluated by their actual abilities and goals rather than their promises and how much money they have got. This could then help build a stronger democratic society where the educated leader knows the importance of listening to the people and aiding them in their issues- and given that he would have enough knowledge for thinking issues through on his own would mean that they would not be manipulated by counselors with an agenda. It would also prevent various wars, given that leaders would see the importance of overcoming issues diplomatically rather than just wasting so many resources and going into war- indeed, what the world needs most right now are intellectual leaders who can see and differentiate the general good over their personal wishes of enrichment.