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Students Attend International Leadership Association Conference

Group travels to Brussels to attend annual conference with global reach.

  Monday, January 22, 2018

A group of 11 Christopher Newport students pursuing minors in leadership studies recently traveled to Brussels for the International Leadership Association (ILA) annual conference. Leadership scholars and students from around the world attend and present their work.

This year the conference theme was “leadership in turbulent times.” “This is the foremost conference in the field of leadership studies,” says Dr. Lynn Shollen, chair of CNU’s Department of Leadership and American Studies. Shollen was one of the five CNU faculty to accompany the students.

The students made group presentations during the conference case study competition. Senior political science and American studies major Emily Risko and her group focused on the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and its state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi. “We evaluated her leadership in terms of ethics and also talked about the historic context, because back in the 80s she was a huge advocate for human rights,” says Risko. Risko’s group made it to the final round where only three of the nine groups got to present their case studies.

The opportunity to learn from other scholars and students was significant for those in attendance. “What really struck me is that leadership is actually a significant field outside of CNU. It can sometimes feel like the study of leadership is something specific to this school and to the President’s Leadership Program,” says junior psychology major Zoe Nerantzis. “But the ILA conference is a great reminder that leadership is a well-established discipline that is studied and practiced by people from all around the world. It's also really neat to be able to see, hear from and meet people whose work I have read in class.”

Shollen reflects on the satisfaction of witnessing Christopher Newport students experiencing the conference. “Every year our colleagues from other institutions approach us during the conference and rave about how impressive our students are. It's satisfying to watch our students articulately present their research to an audience and field question with knowledge and poise,” she says.


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