Barger Leadership Bridge Institute

The Barger Leadership Bridge Institute

We propose a partnership between the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI), the Organizational Studies (OS) Program, and the Comprehensive Studies (CSP) Summer Bridge Program to create and pilot a summer leadership institute that will draw together innovative classroom and co-curricular programs to provide an intensive experiential learning opportunity for approximately 30 CSP Bridge students in Summer 2014.  Students who complete the program will be invited to join the Barger Institute’s campus-wide fellows program in their freshman year, where they will have access to co-curricular programming, a diverse community of like-minded students and a small amount of “M-Cubed style” funding to support collaborative projects of their choosing. In short, the summer institute will provide a rich and attractive summer learning experience, bridge directly into existing curricular and co-curricular offerings in LSA social science programs, and position students who complete it to develop leadership roles in a thriving co-curricular unit.

A pedagogical focus on early, fundamental leadership education through a combination of experiential and classroom learning will have substantial benefits for our students, our institution, and eventually, our society. In the early 1800s Alexis De Toqueville identified a characteristic associational form of American civic life that was defined by a quiet, pragmatic, and pluralist form of collaborative leadership.  Nearly 200 years later, Robert Putnam identified a dramatic decline in civic participation in just these forms of associations. That trend, in turn, diminished the social capital of groups, the efficacy and vibrancy of public discourse, and the leadership capacity of individuals. The resulting shift toward more exclusive, conflictual, and winner-take-all styles of leadership and decision- making are apparent in our political, civic, and business organizations. Moreover, the decline of associations also limits opportunities for individuals to develop pluralistic leadership skills through the lessons of experience.

Project Team:
Jason Owen-Smith, Organizational Studies and Sociology, College of Literature, Science and the Arts