The Reach - Phi Theta Kappa's Blog

The Reach

All the latest information, news and stories to inspire and inform Phi Theta Kappa members

25 Years of Setting Apart the College Experience

25 Years of Setting Apart the College Experience

Setting apart the college experience through an unparalleled personal growth opportunity — that’s how Distinguished Alumnus, former White House Fellow, television host, and best-selling author Wes Moore described Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Studies curriculum: “It taught me how to excel in the world.” 

For 25 years, Phi Theta Kappa has brought a unique humanities perspective on leadership learning and growth to existing and emerging leaders in colleges and communities around the world, from North America to Europe and Asia. Grounded in the thought, observations, and actions of diverse authors and leaders through history, the curriculum emphasizes that the exercise of leadership is a human endeavor, transcending any academic discipline.

Since 1992, tens of thousands of students — members and non-members — have set apart their college experience with the nationally recognized curriculum, Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Development Studies:  A Humanities Approach.

In 1999, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) named the Phi Theta Kappa leadership program as one of only eight Exemplary Programs in American higher education among those it had funded during the 1990s. During the evaluation process, WKKF identified key components that distinguished programs as Exemplary, including the intellectual framework, practices, and sustainability.

For Phi Theta Kappa’s leadership program, the details of these components include:

  • Intellectual framework — the philosophical foundation of the program
    • emphasizes the leadership potential of all people
    • focuses on ethical and socially responsible actions
    • views leadership through the lens of relational processes
  • Practices — the methods employed in the program include
    • dialogue-based learning
    • integrating humanities selections from philosophy, literature, history, and film for students to consider in the development of their own personal philosophy of leadership and to understand the authentic exercise of leadership
    • experiential, immersive, and assessment activities to practice leadership skills and enhance self-awareness
    • shared analysis and synthesis of the material and the activities for the development of leadership knowledge, creating critical and systems thinking, and building leadership capacity for action
  • Sustainability — the program has endured and evolved through
    • planned evaluation and revisions to strengthen it and maintain its relevance
    • involving faculty and administrators in commitments to institutional and community impact through professional development

This last feature, the professional development of faculty and administrators, has been a central feature of the program’s success over its 25-year history. Attendance at a Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar is a pre-requisite to facilitating the program and involves intensive exposure to the methodologies and a deep exploration of how to create the most effective leadership development environment.

“It was exciting and enlightening that so much insight could be gained from 3 1/2 days of highly engaged dialogue and demonstration,” Dr. Aldena Harris, a Phi Theta Kappa advisor at Lorain County Community College in Ohio, wrote of her experience in a 2016 Seminar. Read her first-person account. 

Two Leadership Instructor Certification Seminars will take place at Phi Theta Kappa’s Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi, this summer, July 10-13 and July 20-23. Learn more.

Download the full WKKF report on leadership programs in higher education. 

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