Introduction to Community Leadership

November 1, 2004

Introduction to Community Leadership

Teaching team:
Dr. Michael Williams, Professor in the College, Holmdene 314, x4495
Rev. George Heartwell, Director, Aquinas College Community Leadership Institute, x3506

Course Description:
As the introductory course for the Community Leadership major, the course will involve students in field experiences in community agencies and help them reflect on the meanings of community, service, and leadership as they work in those agencies. The goal of the course is to bring students to a deeper understanding of their role as servant leaders in the communities they not only find themselves living and working in but also those they wish to affect in humane ways. The objectives of the course are to:

  • Develop an appreciation for the meanings of community and service within those communities;
  • Develop an understanding of the meaning of civic responsibility through reflection on service learning;
  • Forge meaningful partnerships with people in communities through service in organizations in those communities;
  • Develop an understanding of the meanings of leadership in community service work;

Course Texts:
Bill Shore, The Cathedral Within
Alex Kotlowitz, The Other Side of the River
Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place
Arthur Miller, An Enemy of the People
Michael Williams, The Parent Centered Early School

Course Assignments:

Assignment #1:
Students will keep a journal, in a spiral bound notebook, detailing the days, hours, and tasks that they engaged in each week of their chosen field experiences. Journals should also make connections between these experiences and the readings and speakers where appropriate. Each student should spend at least three hours per week, for at least thirty hours for the semester in fieldwork. These j journals will be collected and reviewed by the instructors at least three times during the course. The journal, as documentation of the student’s field involvement, is worth 30% of the final grade. Although they may contain and are encouraged to contain student thoughts and reflections on their fieldwork, the journals will not receive a letter grade, but will simply be designated as “complete up to date” or “incomplete up to date.” Students are asked to take their involvement seriously, to be present in the agency at the times they agreed upon, and to notify the agency and one of the instructors in the event they are unable to do their work due to sickness or other emergency. Missing more than three weeks of field work may lead to no credit for the course. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from their work sites. The instructors will communicate with site directors in order to evaluate each student’s progress in their field placements.

Assignment #2:
From The Women of Brewster Place, a reflective essay, four pages double space typed, describing how any three women from the book showed leadership and service to the community in any form. This paper is worth 10% of the final grade.

Assignment #3:
From The Other Side of the River, a reflective essay, three pages double space typed, describing how the leadership of the “white community” had maintained the racial barriers between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. This paper is worth 10% of the final grade.

Assignment #4:
From An Enemy of the People, three pages of responses to study questions to be handed out on the book. This paper is worth 10% of the final grade.

Assignment #5:
From The Parent Centered Early School, a reflective essay, four pages double space typed, describing the meanings of community, service, and leadership at Highland Community School in Milwaukee. This paper is worth 10% of the final grade.

Assignment #6:
From The Cathedral Within, the student should pick two individuals presented as leaders of organizations presented by the author. Describe the organization they lead, its mission, obstacles it encountered as it grew and developed, and what qualities of leadership the leader showed throughout. Summarize the characteristics of the effective leader as the author presents them. This paper should be four pages double space typed. This paper is worth 10% of the final grade.

Assignment #7:
Due at the end of the course is a reflective essay, on separate sheets of paper, not to exceed five pages double space typed, on the meanings of community, service, and leadership in the context of the agency or agencies where the student worked. The paper should include the mission of the agency, a brief description of its organization and its history of operation, individuals in the organization the student worked with and their positions. The paper should also draw on and integrate all the resources in the course (readings and speakers). Please make reference to the Guidelines for Journal Entries in CL 100 (appended). This paper will be worth 20% of the final grade. Each student will present in class the elements of this paper, according to guidelines to be handed out.

Calendar of Readings and Assignments, Spring 2003:

February 6 —- Assignment #2
April 7 ——– Assignment #5
February 20 — Assignment #3
April 17 —— Assignment #6
March 6 —— Assignment #1
May 1 ——– Assignment #7
March 24 —– Assignment #4, Assignment #1

Class attendance and participation is essential. More than three unexcused absences may result in a lower grade for the course.

Guidelines for Journal Entries in CL100, Introduction to Community Leadership:

The following categories should be addressed in your journal commentaries, as you gain experience in the organization or on site with your site director. All journal entries, however, should contain your actual hours of contact and a short description of your activities. Remember that part of your experience is to shadow your community person to determine how he or she exerts leadership and in what contexts. The other part of your field experience is to perform some meaningful service in that organization, in settings which are diverse.

Personal Goals:
Describe what factors brought you to decide on the site you chose. Explain what skills you expect to develop during this experience.

Organizational Goals:
List the formal goals of the organization you are working with, and the source from which you learned them. State any informal goals you’ve learned about and how you learned about them. Describe the extent to which these goals mesh with the concerns of groups victimized by discrimination, such as women, the disabled, senior citizens, racial and ethnic minorities, and the extent to which these goals may conflict with their concerns.

Organizational Structure and Decision Making:
Create a brief organizational chart or overview of your site. Describe if you can the differences you see between the formal structure’s lines of authority and any informal forms of influence. If someone has an informal influence, describe it and account for it. In other words, try to differentiate between formal and informal forms of leadership in the organization. Also describe an important decision made in the organization and how it was made. To what extent was your site director involved? Describe by contrast various leadership styles you might have observed. Evaluate their effectiveness in various contexts.

Explain what this term means to you. According to your definition, describe how much diversity exists at your site, among staff and among those served. If some group or groups are underrepresented, discuss why. Describe the interaction between staff and those served.

Assess the Site/Community:
Determine who benefits from your organization’s work. Identify groups, agencies, and organizations with which your site cooperates and competes. If you can, determine the outcomes of the cooperation and the competition. Identify all the external resources sought by your organization and why they might be needed.

Personal Impact:
Summarize your field experience: your accomplishments, shortfalls, feelings, and learnings especially those about leadership, community, and service.

Spring 2003 Service Placement Opportunities

Rev. Barbara Pekich (Amy Giarmo)
Executive Director
Heartside Ministry
54 S. Division
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
235 7211

Mr. Peter Varga (Matt Messing)
Executive Director
The Rapid
300 Ellsworth SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
456 7514

Mr. Daryl Delabbio (Elissa Sangalli)
County Administrator
Kent County
300 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI
336 3512

Ms. Sharon Caldwell Newton (Aisling Conroy)
Executive Director
Women’s Resource Center
678 Front NW, Suite 180
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
458 5443 ext. 13

Dr. Walter Brame (Kara Stermin)
President and CEO
Grand Rapids Urban League
745 Eastern SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
245 2207

Ms. Nancy Dudley (Tracey Mulder)
Program Manager
City Vision
1413 Madison SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
451 9140

Ms. Bridget Clark (Jenny Seeley)
Program Coordinator
Kids’ Food Basket
Steepletown Neighborhood Services
671 Davis NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
308 0955

School: Aquinas College
Professor: Michael Williams and Rev. George Heartwell
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