Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education

Synopsis

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership explores a mostly untapped resource on college campuses - the leadership potential of staff and faculty at all levels. This book contributes to the growing tradition of giving voice to grassroots leaders, offering a unique contribution by honing in on leadership in educational settings. In an increasingly corporatized environment, grassroots leadership can provide a balance to the prestige and revenue seeking impulses of campus leaders, act as a conscience for institutional operations with greater integrity, create changes related to the teaching and learning core, build greater equity, improve relationships among campus stakeholders, and enhance the student experience. The text documents the stories of grassroots leaders, including the motivation and background of these "bottom up" beacons, the tactics and strategies that they use, the obstacles they overcome, and the ways that they navigate power and join with formal authority. This investigation also showcases how grassroots leaders in institutional settings, particularly more marginalized groups, can face significant backlash. While we like to believe that organizations are civil and humane, the stories in this book demonstrate a dark side with which we must reckon. The book ends with a discussion of the future of leadership on college campuses, examining the possibilities for shared and collaborative forms of leadership and governance.

Excerpt

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.
—Margaret Mead

Walk through any bookstore, and look at the biography section; there are countless books about people in powerful positions. Biographies of presidents, influential activists, successful business leaders, and prominent historical figures dominate the bookshelves. Society heroizes those in positions of authority and those who develop authority by virtue of a strong influence over large groups (such as Martin Luther King Jr.). What is missing from the bookshelves is a focus on everyday people who create positive change despite their lack of national recognition, formal position of authority, and large group of followers. In a world where the future is seemingly guided and directed by those in power (at least through the eyes of the media and publishing world), the contribution of the majority of the people who create and shape our society is often unrecognized.

While the common image of leadership and change in both societies and institutions is quite narrow, there is a growing collection of work that spotlights the efforts of everyday leaders who create changes and better our world. The successful grassroots organizing of the Obama campaign is responsible for some of the growing interest. People now have a prominent example, within their own experience and generation, of the power of organizing and working from the bottom up. One example of the growing interest in understanding grassroots leadership is National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) forum, where the hosts interview and give voice to grassroots and community leaders. Reaching audiences across the country, NPR highlights the activities of local activists who have significantly changed their communities through . . .

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