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KU establishes Institute for Leadership Studies

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

LAWRENCE – Often the word “leader” conjures up images of an executive or boss. At the University of Kansas, a new institute will help promote a different approach to leadership.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences has created the Institute for Leadership Studies. The institute practices the concept of leadership as a process rather than as a position of authority. The leadership studies minor has taught this approach, known as adaptive leadership, to hundreds of students over the past decade. The institute will continue to direct the leadership studies minor as well as develop more opportunities for leadership studies courses and programs.

“The Institute for Leadership Studies will enhance KU’s opportunity to fulfill its mission of educating leaders. Further, the institute will function as an interdisciplinary research connector, gathering KU’s strengths in leadership research and elevating our contributions to the field,” said Don Steeples, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Initial programming enhancements in the institute include a new online certificate, Leadership Strategies and Applications, as well as mentorship and leadership programs and a research consortium. The institute will build on the success of existing programs, such as the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute (KWLI), which is jointly funded by the U.S. State Department and KU Endowment Association. The KWLI joins together, at KU each summer, women from several countries and from across the state of Kansas to engage in leadership courses, develop leadership competencies and learn from cultural immersion.

Mary Banwart, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, is director of the Institute for Leadership Studies. She has directed and expanded the leadership studies minor since 2004.

The institute’s programming will be designed to benefit students and alumni across multiple areas of study and career pursuits.

“The idea of adaptive leadership is to prepare students to make a difference from where they are with what they have. Our goal is to help others develop the courage and leadership skills to ignite positive change, whether in their work lives, communities or personal lives,” Banwart said.

The curriculum of leadership studies is structured to be interdisciplinary so all students at KU find opportunity to apply leadership skills and theory to their major content area. The requirements for the minor can be fulfilled with electives across the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the schools of Business, Education, Journalism & Mass Communications, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Welfare as well as in military studies.

The Institute for Leadership Studies will also support leadership education and research at KU through grant development and funding.

For more information about the institute or its programming, contact Banwart at mbanwart@ku.edu.

The Institute for Leadership Studies is among more than 50 departments, programs and centers that make up the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The College is KU’s broadest, most diverse academic unit.