Kate DeGraaf ACF Abstract FY11

"Developing Benevolent Purpose through Leadership Learning: Perspectives from Three Diverse Campuses"

Conference Name: John C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values


Small faith-based campus, mid-size state institution, and a large public football school&what do they have in common? Each of these campuses seek to develop the leadership capacity of students through leadership learning programs. Join this interactive workshop where presenters will dialogue with participants on the alignment of institutional mission and history with the format, design, and impact of leadership programs. Sharing perspectives from Cornerstone University, Grand Valley State University, and Florida State University the presenters will describe and explore the diverse formats of teaching and developing leadership capacity in students based on secular, religious, and/or spiritual campus context.


Exploring three of the Institutes themes: 1) Clarifying why benevolent purpose is important for college students; 2) How does faith encourage the fostering of purpose in life?; and 3) How can practitioners encourage benevolent purpose among college students? This session is built on the definition of leadership as a meaning-making activity that solves evolutionary, complex problems. Through their experience at three distinctly different collegiate campuses, the presenters will describe the impact of institutional mission and history upon the format and offering of leadership programs. Exploring the conceptual design of leadership programs through Kolbs experiential learning cycle, opportunities and program focus from each campus will be explored in relation to campus mission. Using quantitative program data along with qualitative summaries of diverse student voices, leadership learning experiences from each campus will be compared along the outcomes of HERIs (1996) Social Change Model of Leadership.

As post-industrial leadership philosophies align with individual purpose and meaning making, they can no longer ignore the spiritual journey of the students campus program intend to reach. How this philosophical and programmatic gap is bridged will depend significantly on the campus embrace and acceptance of conversations around spirituality. From a campus deeply rooted in students spiritual growth to one that took two years to form a spiritual life committee, this presentation will engage participants in a conversation of creating mission-based leadership programs in an era when theory and practice align leadership and spiritual development.