L&C Staff Courses

Commencing Character: How Should We Live?

Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate (“for humanity”), calls us to cultivate the qualities of character needed to serve humanity. This course explores how we can fulfill this vision by considering fundamental questions of human existence: What is a good life? Which values and virtues are needed to flourish as individuals and communities, and which practices enable us to cultivate these values and virtues? How do we educate others and ourselves to live virtuously? To examine these questions, the course pairs Aristotle’s ancient ethics with contemporary commencement speeches and integrates pedagogical exercises designed to cultivate virtue. The course culminates with students delivering their own commencement addresses on their vision of a good life.

“Some days I feel like a fool for caring about something other than preparing myself for a safe career. But I am fully convinced that conversation and practical action on virtue, character and higher goods are some of the highest forms of human activity.”

Student in a Leadership and Character Discussion Group

Christianity, Character, and Public Life

How can Christians today promote the flourishing of public life? Although contemporary public institutions generally seek to avoid questions of character, Christianity has developed a rich tradition of theological reflection and social activism that has routinely identified a crucial connection between the two, suggesting that the flourishing of personal character and public life are intertwined. Focusing upon the writings of prominent theologians and the leaders of influential social movements, this course explores this connection. With particular attention to the public roles of government and church, as well as the realities of religious pluralism, we ask how Christian leaders and Christians more generally might help to foster the flourishing of both individuals and the public in which they live.

How to Keep a Republic

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, when asked whether the new government of the United States was a monarchy or a republic, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” What is a republic, and how do we keep it? How do we preserve liberty and justice for all against threats of domination? What role should checks and balances and the rule of law play in our political system? Which virtues are required for political leaders and citizens, and how can citizens hold their leaders accountable? Beginning with ancient Rome and concluding with contemporary America, students learn how to develop the virtues, practices and institutions needed to keep our republic.

Issues and Trends in Education: Hip-Hop Pedagogy, Poetics, and Remixes for Higher Education

This course is an exploration in hip-hop – its origins, its possibilities, and implications for higher and postsecondary education. In addition, this course provides students a space to understand Critical Hip-Hop Pedagogy, and its role in critiquing and radically reimagining institutions that reduce inequality (e.g. schools/colleges and universities, churches, criminal justice system, etc.). Together, we will use hip-hop, poetry, and storytelling as a vehicle for negotiating the politics of place and space, and how hip-hop culture influences teaching, learning, and near-peer mentorship. Using hip-hop as a lens to view our experiences at Wake Forest and beyond, invites us to be vulnerable and honest, while feeling supported in a collective process of meaning-making. We hope to develop a community of artists committed to – and consistently engaged in – the work of social justice education. In doing so, students will learn the ways in which hip-hop – it’s poetic and aesthetic traditions – resist traditional forms of teaching and learning, while strengthening competencies that promote collective academic success.

Leadership and Adversity

What are the skills, habits, and virtues of lawyers who lead others through adversity? This course in the School of Law answers this question by engaging seminal texts on leadership and conducting a series of interviews with lawyers who have led in varied professional contexts. These exemplars highlight numerous pathways into principled legal leadership.

Leadership and Character in the Professions

This course in the School of Law introduces students to classic and contemporary texts on ethical leadership in order to analyze the responsibilities of lawyers and other professionals and to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and virtues needed to lead with integrity.

Professional and Leadership Skills

How can a values-driven professional do good work within a morally flawed organization? This question matters because most organizations are thoroughly mixed bags with regard to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Even the best organizations have room for growth. This course enables young professionals to acquire the insights, skills, and virtues needed to lead teams and organizations toward more humane and sustainable outcomes.

L&C Postdoctoral Fellows Courses

Character and the Good Life: Negotiating Questions of Race, Class and Gender

This course in the School of Divinity introduces students to basic philosophical and theological concepts of virtue and character; explores how various structures, including those related to race, class, and gender, shape moral formation; and provides pedagogical exercises for students to reflect on their own formation and develop virtues they need to lead in their vocational roles.

Character and Medicine

This course will address various topics in medical ethics including patient autonomy, physician-assisted suicide, care for the elderly, disability, and mental illness. The general objective is to encourage the student to evaluate ethical issues from the perspectives of various stakeholders in these cases. On a more spiritual level, my hope is that this course will encourage students to think critically about shared human vulnerability as well as their own morality.  The overall goal is to develop students’ character so that will eventually come to view themselves as autonomous agents in medical systems.

The Character of Entrepreneurship

This course explores how students can fulfill this mission within the context of entrepreneurship by intentionally developing virtues of character not to lead for self alone, but for humanity. It explores two central questions: what are virtuous character traits that align with the entrepreneurial mindset, and how can they be cultivated? Through readings, dialogue, and experiential learning, students learn to reflect on personal experiences of leadership and entrepreneurship, develop important habits of character, infuse virtues into the DNA of an organization, and identify virtuous exemplars who serve as entrepreneurial role models.

Entrepreneurial Leadership

This course is designed for students who want to develop leadership skills and virtues of character that differentiate great entrepreneurs.  Students will investigate leadership theories, examine leadership styles, discover the core qualities that cultivate an entrepreneurial leader’s role in driving innovation and growth, develop judgement for when to use hard versus soft skills, learn to build a culture of virtuous leadership across ventures, and create high performing teams with shared purpose/values/vision.

Ethical Leadership in Computer Science

The shape of our future depends on the character and leadership of the people who work in Computer Science. This course aims to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and virtues of character required to become ethical leaders in their field.

Grant-Supported Courses

With support from the Lilly Endowment, the Program provided course development and redesign grants to faculty in July 2020, 2021, and 2022. During each three-day workshop and follow-up one-on-one sessions, participating faculty worked closely with Program staff to craft new courses or modules targeting leadership and character learning outcomes. 

New courses integrating leadership and character include: 

  • “Ethical and Social Issues in Natural Language Processing,” Natalia Khuri, Computer Science
  • “Sudden Bursts of Feeling! The Power of Emotion in Sentimental Literature,” Adrian Greene, English
  • “Leading the Race: Lessons in Leadership from Black Men’s Novels of Escape,” Erica Still, English
  • “Memory, Monuments, and Reparations in Post-War Germany: What Can We Learn?,” Rebecca S. Thomas, German and Russian
  • “U.S. Environmental History,” Lisa Blee, History
  • “Homesick: Past and Future Homes in the Literary-Historical Imagination,” Rian Bowie, English, and Mir Yarfitz, History
  • “Philosophy as a Way of Life,” Emily Austin, Philosophy
  • “Humanitarian Action in a Political World,” Sarah Lischer, Politics and International Affairs
  • “Multimedia Translation,” Xijinyan Chen, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • “Religion and Environmental Justice in Latin America,” Elizabeth Gandolfo, School of Divinity
  • “The Wisdom Literature:Virtue, Integrity, and Equity,” Neal Walls, School of Divinity
  • “Divinity School Internship Orientation,” John Senior, School of Divinity
  • “Practical Wisdom and the Law: Cultivating Dispositions and Abilities to Do the Right Thing Well,” Harold Lloyd, School of Law
  • “Criminal Law,” Alyse Bertenthal, School of Law
  • “Women, Law, Leadership, and Character,” Abigail Perdue, School of Law
  • “Criminal Procedure,” “Innocence and Justice Clinic,” and “Contemplative Practices and the Law,” Mark Rabil, School of Law
  • “LAUNCH Certificate Program,” Marcia Wofford, School of Medicine 

New modules on leadership and character have been integrated into these existing courses: 

  • “Quantitative Asset Pricing,” Dr. Jane Ryngaert, Economics
  • “Fourth-year Chinese,” Dr. Lu Lu, East Asian Languages and Culture
  • “Statistical Learning,” Dr. Lucy D’Agostino McGowan, Mathematics and Statistics
  • “Introduction to Bioethics,” Dr. Ana Iltis, Philosophy
  • “Introduction to Political Theory,” Dr. Andrius Galisanka, Politics and International Affairs
  • “Organizational Psychology,” Dr. Lara Kammrath, Psychology
  • “Who Am I? A Sociocultural Approach to Self and Identity Development,” Dr. Lisa Kiang, Psychology
  • “Managing People and Organizations,” Sherry Moss, School of Business
  • “Data Analysis and Business Modeling,” Christopher Smith, School of Business 
  • “Leadership and Ethics,” Dr. Sean Hannah, School of Business
  • “Innocence and Justice Clinic,” Mark Rabil, School of Law
  • “Essential Business Concepts,” Chris Meazell, School of Law
  • “Race, Social Science, and the Law,” Jonathan Cardi, School of Law