"In our first two weeks, you have read several articles, seen several videos and been engaged in several discussions related to the concept of academic leadership. At this point, and in your own words, what does the concept mean to you? What subjects or interests do you have a sophisticated, intellectual understanding of that you may want to turn into a major academic project in this class? How do people sometimes abuse academic knowledge to manipulate others? How would you feel if someone used your work to manipulate others (as Jared Diamond claims Mitt Romney has)? How can creating academically sophisticated, intellectual leaders help prevent such people from taking advantage of others the way they do? How can this create a stronger democratic society?"
During this school year, we have replaced a class named “IB Prep” by another class entitled “Academic Leadership”. At first, we the students didn't really know what this class would consist of; what they were going to teach us, or what was the school's objective with this. Were we going to hear "leaders" tell us all about how they made it to where they are? We soon learned that this class wasn't so simple. It consisted of many factors brought together to create a class to improve the class as a whole and as individuals.
To start off, during these first sessions we have been trying to figure out what academic leadership means. To my understanding, academic leadership consists of intellectual leadership. It encompasses you using your knowledge to improve your levels of leadership. To enhance you performance as a leader by using the most important traits you have acquired during your life and transforming it to the betterment of your followers. In a way, anyone can be a leader, but the ones who will be most successful are the ones who are not only leaders, but academic leaders as well. They will always use their knowledge to increase their quality as a leader. Something that is often misunderstood is who and what a leader is. We often have to remind ourselves that leaders aren’t only the presidents of nations or the CEO’s of big companies. Of course, they are leaders as well, but overall, anyone who uses their knowledge and skills to move forward can be a leader. Moreover, if a person can’t be a leader to a group, he or she can always find a way to be a leader of themselves. Academic leadership becomes tricky when we begin to look at people who use it to manipulate others. Leaders, specially the biggest ones, tend to do this often. A classic example would be Hitler. He was an amazing public speaker and he abused of this skill to inspire a nation to do what we consider to be one of the biggest crimes of our existence. We recently read an article in class about how Mitt Romney has used Jared Diamond’s work to manipulate others and with that use forged information about the book he has written. This is another classic example of a leader trying to use academic skills to manipulate others. This class can serve as a way to create academically sophisticated leaders and teach them of how to use the knowledge they acquire for the betterment of the society. Once we create academically sophisticated leaders, we end up limiting the amount of abuse of this resource for these new leaders will not allow themselves to be manipulated or explored. This, of course, would create a stronger democratic society, for people would understand what it is that they want and what is best for them as a group and would not, therefore allow themselves to be manipulated by a leader.
In this Academic Leadership class we were also asked to produce a personal project in which we would explore any particular area that interests us. As our teacher put it, “any subject can be academic, if you look at it and analyze it in the correct manner.” I have thought of the subject that I want to work with extensively. The particular areas I am considering are, either creating a project around MUN and the United Nations, or looking a bit into psychology and creating a project around that, or maybe even creating a project in which I explore jazz and rock and try and find new artists that might spark a particular interest to me. I am also considering looking into photography. This is something that has always been of interest to me and I can look into how pictures reflect certain moods and alongside that, explore photo editing and Photoshop. I am super exited for this year as we go deeper into the meaning of being a true leader and exploring talents that are usually not taught, or sometimes not even valued in school.