Whoosh! Here I am!

Ok, first my apologies for not responding sooner! It has been a mad semester, and I was out of town all last week at a conference.  So after catching up, here I am at the last minute catching up with y’all.  I’ll do my best to cover all the bases…

Who am I?  Well, I’m in my 3rd year of full time teaching, first year at GCSU.  My wife, Elisabeth, and I have two kids, Porter (3.5) and Elsie (2), and two dogs, Osa (10) and Maggie (7).  We moved from Vermont where I was teaching at Green Mountain College (a small school with 800 students) in the Adventure Recreation program up there.  I came down here because of the opportunity for working in a nationally recognized program specifically aligned with my interest area – using the outdoors to effect change at the individual, community, and global levels through adventure, environmental education, and leadership development.  My research interests lie in understanding leadership development and growth with particular attention to authenticity, moral character, vision, and judgment.

Thus, the course I’d like to develop would be tentatively titled, “Human Dimensions of Leadership.”  The intention is to work with students on personal assessment of potential, vision development, and identifying areas for action.  As a very internally focused course (internal to the student), it may not be the best for connecting to civic issues.  However, the intended outcomes of the course would allow students to interact with any number of issues post-course, depending on their particular skill set and interests.  Along those lines, perhaps we might say that the course tackles the core issues of society – character development, personal responsibility, and locus of control.

I’ve found another course with objectives that match my intentions with this class.  Borrowed from William George at Harvard:


  1. To enable students to understand their leadership journeys and their crucibles through framing their life stories and experiences to date.
  2. To understand why leaders lose their way and the self-awareness needed to avoid derailment.
  3. To gain clarity about their leadership principles, values, and ethical boundaries, and how they will respond under pressure when severely challenged.
  4. To understand what is motivating them, both extrinsically and intrinsically, and to find leadership paths that will enable them to utilize their motivated capabilities.
  5. To explore how to build support teams and lead an integrated life.
  6. To understand the purpose of their leadership and to create a Personal Leadership Development Plan to guide them throughout their lives.

Pretty lofty stuff, I agree. The ultimate purpose here is to move away from the misconception that leadership is a coat you can pull from the closet and put on as needed.  Instead, leadership that creates opportunities for change begins with who you are, not what you can do.  Acting like a leader is not being a leader.

Anyway, there it is in a not-so-succinct nutshell.  Thanks for listening!  See you tomorrow!


About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.
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3 Responses to Whoosh! Here I am!

  1. Well, we’re glad to have you! I was getting worried. Now that the meeting has been postponed to next week, we all have time to comment on your ideas.

  2. klmkleine says:

    I love your ideas Will–I especially am taken by the notion of living leadership. I can see you given this thought. Since judgment is important to you and competent decision-making is to me, perhaps we’ll have way to work together.

  3. kcossey says:

    Very interesting.

    I definitely think this could be linked to civic-issues, and had a few possible ideas. Even if not super specific civic issues could provide (a) a context for students to think about leaders they may have heard of and (b) a motivation/goal for using their leadership skills

    For part a, I was thinking that using historical examples could be used as concrete examples of your goals #1 & #2 like qualities of a leader, leadership journeys, crucibles, and “how leaders lose their way”.

    For part b, the ability to change the world around them could be a strong motivating factor for WHY students would want to become leaders. By pointing out examples of people who have had a major impact on civic issues (back to part a), this reinforces the idea of how it is possible to change things even as one person. MOST IMPORTANTLY, you could ask students to think of a civic issue that they would LIKE to see some change in. Thinking about what qualities they would need to enact a change in this area and working towards it throughout the course gives them some way to link internal (and somewhat abstract) virtues in them and the world around them. This could also propel them to use these skills in the future towards a civic aim.

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