The Program for Leadership and Character is working closely with faculty and staff to elevate the Honor Code and foster a culture of honor and character on campus. The working group has redesigned Opening Convocation to include a signing ceremony and a conversation about honor and integrity. They are now exploring how to further emphasize honor in new student orientation activities, increase support and training for the Honor and Ethics Council, and deepen student engagement with the Honor Code on campus.
The Program for Leadership and Character has experimented with a number of creative, liberal arts-based programs to embed leadership and character into the campus culture. We continue to work with various campus offices and departments to expand the number of initiatives that we are offering.
“The discussion group allowed me to find common ground with people who were different from me… We pushed past easy answers to see if we had a common goal in how we pursued truth, managed failure and chased after the good life.” Student in the Leadership and Character Discussion Group
Elevating the Honor Code
Leadership and Character Discussion Groups
To encourage reflection and conversation on leadership and character, the Program leads year-long discussion groups for cohorts of interested students. Topics include:
- What is college for?
- What role do friends play in a good life?
- How do we deal with failure?
- What is our vocation?
- Conversation and community
- Service, justice and charity
- Art and compassion
- Solitude and self-care
Leadership and Character Workshops
The Program for Leadership and Character partners with student organizations, academic departments and centers, and campus offices to facilitate leadership and character development through workshops, retreats, panels and presentations.
Dr. Lamb, for example, has led workshops for various campus offices and facilitated a session on “Friendship in the Lives of Leaders” for over 100 university leaders at the Wake Forest Leadership Summit. Most recently, Dr. Lamb facilitated a session on “Leadership as Conversation” at the Presidents’ Leadership Conference.
Leadership and Character through the Arts
Leadership on Stage
Using the liberal arts to examine aspects of leadership and character, the Program for Leadership and Character partners with the Department of Theatre and Dance to organize discussions around their stage productions.
For example, following the production of Macbeth, students and student-actors stayed after the play to discuss how ambition, greed and power can corrupt the character of leaders. After The Adding Machine, the Program helped to facilitate a conversation with audience members, cast members and the director on technology, culture and character and what it means to be human in an age of machines.
“The Arts of Leading”
The Program for Leadership and Character co-organized an international conference on “The Arts of Leading: Perspectives from the Humanities and Liberal Arts” in February 2019. Co-sponsored by the Oxford Character Project, the interdisciplinary conference brought distinguished scholars and practitioners to Wake Forest to discuss how classics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, and the visual and performing arts can expand and enliven our understandings of leadership. For more information, see “The Arts of Leading”.
“The Art of Empathy: Exploring Dorothea Lange’s Photography”
Working with the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, The Program for Leadership and Character hosted a special guided tour of Dorothea Lange’s photography. Experts at the Reynolda House guided students through the exhibit and shared background information about Ms. Lange’s life and work. Afterward, Dr. Michael Lamb facilitated a discussion on visual art and empathy.
From the moment that students arrive on campus, the Program for Leadership and Character works with various campus offices to provide support and programming to help students transition into life at college.
First-Year Experience Commission
President Hatch created the First-Year Experience Commission to explore how Wake Forest might expand opportunities for first-year students. Dr. Lamb served on various task forces of the commission, where he offered expertise on leadership and character development to enhance the first-year experience.
Coordinated by the Office of Academic Advising, the Faculty Fellows program seeks to enrich the intellectual, cultural and social lives of our students through exceptional faculty-student engagement. Faculty members organize programming in first-year residence halls to integrate the life of the mind into students’ social experiences and enhance the sense of community at Wake Forest.
As a Faculty Fellow, Dr. Lamb has infused character and conversation into the first-year experience by offering advice and co-organizing regular discussions to encourage personal growth, including:
- Where is home? How can Wake Forest become a home for us?
- What is college for?
- Beyond Facebook: Developing meaningful friendships in the real world
- Bouncing Back: Building resilience and managing failure
- Managing stress during finals: How to help yourself succeed
Project Wake is a program developed by the Office of Academic Advising in which new students read a book over the summer and discuss it with a Wake Forest faculty or staff member during the first few weeks of classes. In 2018, “Conversations about Character” was chosen as the shared theme. More than 530 students signed up to discuss one of 40 books with 39 Wake Forest faculty and staff. Through these efforts, Project Wake has encouraged hundreds of students to think about how to develop character at Wake Forest and beyond.
During the summer, the Program for Leadership and Character occasionally offers workshops for the Wake Forest Summer Immersion Programs, which invites high school students to take a deep dive into a field of study with access to world-class faculty, researchers and industry professionals. For example, in the 2017 Academic Discovery Institute, 44 high school students explored “What is Good Leadership?”
The Program for Leadership and Character has also participated in international opportunities during the summer. For the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute, Dr. Lamb facilitated a leadership lunch with international students from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2017, the Leadership, Social Justice and Citizenship in the United States Program hosted the Program for Leadership and Character for a full-day workshop on “The Character of Leadership” with Chilean students from Universidad Diego Portales.
Call to Conversation
Wake Forest has launched a Call to Conversation, a national movement to spark more meaningful conversation. Many of those conversations focus on the topic of leadership and character. The Program for Leadership and Character has helped to facilitate these structured conversations on campus and across the country.