Book Reviews

Review by: Nancy Crone

Eastern Illinois University

njcrone@eiu.edu

This book offered a wonderful opportunity to learn about leadership development and the role that higher education provides in a variety of different ways.  The themes that were discussed from chapter to chapter all tied together and several scenarios were introduced of real programs offered.  As an academic advisor, I was reminded about how I can contribute to my students’ learning about leadership.

As one might expect, the benefits of leadership learning or leadership education were discussed in great detail.  These benefits include social change, civic engagement, and the development of better citizens.  This concept goes hand-in-hand with the fact that higher education was founded on a liberal arts education that was intended to create citizens and leaders.  Although higher education has changed drastically since 1636, the objective of creating leaders has not.  Guthrie and Callahan (p. 24) identify five competencies of leadership curriculum to be critical thinking, communication, cross-cultural understanding, ethical capacity, and civic engagement, and they expound on each of these to show a connection between these competencies and a liberal arts education. 

Consider how leadership development fits into the mission statement of your institution and what is done to meet that mission.  Since leadership learning can be provided across all disciplines, there are numerous ways to incorporate these competencies into the curriculum.  Problem-based learning is identifying a problem and working together to come up with a solution.  This approach can be used within any major, but would be particularly beneficial to those courses with a hands-on component.  Another method is to use critical race theory to help students recognize life experiences that have shaped who they have become, to identify “values, commitments, or even fears” (Pendakur and Furr, p. 49).  This is helpful in using the social change model of leadership development, which requires understanding relationships among people to be able to initiate change.  Competency-based leadership and how to incorporate that was also discussed.  This included guidelines on how to get started and identified that this would provide a measureable way to provide a leadership education experience.

I certainly appreciated the information provided in this book, which allowed me to look at leadership learning in many different ways, such as through problem-based learning or using critical race theory in leadership.  This gave me a broader view of leadership learning.  It was also interesting to hear how some institutions are offering leadership development opportunities to their students.  I have found that the New Directions in Higher Education books typically offer a lot of information without being overwhelming to read and this one was no exception.  It is definitely worthwhile for academic advisors as well as others who work with students and want to assist them in developing their leadership skills.  

Reading this book provided me with ideas on how I can better assist my students by helping them to find leadership opportunities that exist on campus.  I can also help with developing some of the competencies needed to be an effective leader.  For example, during an advising session, critical thinking skills can be strengthened by discussing options when there are scheduling conflicts or choosing an elective class.  Having a discussion about volunteer opportunities and the importance of civic engagement will also be beneficial.\


Reclaiming Higher Education’s Purpose in Leadership Development. (2016). Review by Nancy Crone. Book by Kathy L. Guthrie and Laura Osteen (Eds.), Jossey-Bass. 112 pp., $29.00, (Paperback), ISBN #978-1-119-27973-0, http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/product Cd-1119279739.html.

Posted in: 2016 Book Reviews
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