“Know thyself”- said Socrates

A cadre of students set off on the longest journey, the one inside. They discovered strengths in themselves, and saw the reflection of those in others. By listening to themselves, they found it easier to show empathy towards others, and that leadership in the 21st century requires compassion, collaboration, and design thinking.

Primarily student-sourced and student-led and guided by Professor Thomas Schmidt our course was an experiment in leadership. The class itself was a prototype, with the students contributing to the syllabus and structure of the course based on what they hoped to learn about leadership. Our diverse cohort had a range of ideas about what effective leadership entailed, which leadership traits we already possessed individually, how much personal improvement we could make in the context of a 15-week academic course, and how a student-led course might fail miserably.

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Yet week after week, we propelled each other to unearth new dimensions of our styles, different understandings of our personalities, challenging levels of discomfort and confidence, and sharper perspectives of our strengths and weaknesses. In witnessing the developments of our peers, of ourselves, and of our collective prototype, we came to realize how taking ownership of our course could give new meaning to the term “education.”

What remains with us forever is a curated path of intellectual and emotional nights whose passion and glow persist.

Text by Elizabeth Mills and Professor Thomas Schmidt