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Courtney Wade ’14 is a communication major carrying minors in management, public leadership and educational studies – and she is a Garfield Scholar. The Garfield Institute for Public Leadership prepares Garfield Scholars – through hands-on, experiential learning – to assume the responsibilities of public leadership by developing expertise in matters of foreign and domestic public policy, grounded in Hiram’s traditional liberal arts education.
Becoming a Garfield Scholar is hard work, but doing so provides students with hands-on opportunities to develop intellectual and social skills for careers in public leadership and scholarship related to public policy and international relations. We asked Courtney to tell us a little about how she’s experienced these opportunities – and what being a Garfield Scholar means to her.
What does it mean to be a Garfield Scholar? In a nutshell, scholars from a variety of disciplines (political science, environmental studies, management, communication and more) cooperate to study both foreign and domestic public policy topics. Although this is who we are and what we do as scholars, it does not answer the question, what does it mean to be a Garfield Scholar? This question was more difficult to answer than I imagined.
Maybe it’s easiest to approach the question by referring to a recent experience. I am in my third year as a scholar, and during my studies here, I have traveled to Cuba, taken two trips to Washington, D.C. and studied a variety of public policy matters. In January I, along with two other scholars, traveled to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., for the 2014 U.S.N.A. Leadership Conference, “Followership: The Evolution of a Leader.”
The topic of the conference—followership—wasn’t what I expected to be learning about at a leadership conference. But after listening to a variety of distinguished speakers and panelists, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Navy SEAL and astronaut Christopher Cassidy and two-time World Champion of the United States National Soccer Team Kristine Lilly Heavey, I began to see the intricate and critical relationship that exists between a leader and a follower.
This relationship lives upon an ever-changing continuum where sometimes, leader becomes follower, and follower becomes leader. Two speakers, retired Lieutenant General John Sattler and (his subordinate) retired Sergeant Major Carlton Kent, personified this continuum. They told us about their time together in the Gulf, and about the strong bond they formed as leader/follower and as friends. Lt. Gen. Sattler had no problem saying that at times he was a follower to his subordinate Sgt. Maj. Kent, explaining that sometimes Kent simply knew more about a situation than did he; likewise, Kent said that he knew when he needed to step up and assume a leadership role. Importantly, he also knew when to take orders with which he didn’t necessarily agree and carry them out as if they were his own.
By the end of the conference, stories like those of Lt. Gen. Sattler and Sgt. Maj. Kent helped me develop an entirely new opinion of followership and its relationship to leadership – and I realized the significance of the experiences the Garfield Institute for Public Leadership had been providing for me over the past two and a half years.
So let me revisit the question, What does it mean to be a Garfield Scholar?
I have learned that to be great leader you must also be a great follower – and to be a Garfield Scholar exemplifies that. I am learning when to be a leader, when to be a follower and how to use my knowledge to become a great public servant in my respective disciplines. As a scholar I am learning how to be a leader, but there are so many different topics within the realm of public policy that it is impossible to be fully competent on them all. This is where being a follower becomes critical.
For example, when discussing Alexander Wendt’s “Why a World State is Inevitable,” the scholars with strong backgrounds in political philosophy are able to bring the greatest breadth and depth of knowledge to the table. These same scholars may take a backseat to those with backgrounds in environmental studies when we are talking about global warming; simultaneously, it’s important for the scholars with backgrounds in psychology to bring their perspectives to these issues. Essentially, by integrating different perspectives, we are practicing the give and take that is part of the leader/follower relationship, and all while gaining a better understanding of public policy.
Being a Garfield Scholar in the Garfield Institute for Public Leadership means that I know how to bring my own discipline and background to public policy issues – and I know when and how to be a leader or a follower. It’s an interdisciplinary skill that will benefit me, and my community, for the rest of my life.
Courtney was in Annapolis during the President’s State of the Union Address, and although she wasn’t able to attend in person, Political Science Scholar in Residence Jason Johnson was. Listen to what he had to say.