Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership

how to enjoy this album

An Ancient Imagining of the Future of Leadership

(See below for an update on content produced during the Fall 2016 teaching of the Sunoikisis Ancient Leadership Course)

Though concept albums have long been imagined as courses of study, this project is, to our knowledge, the first course of study to be conceived of as an album, i.e., with a track-listing of songs, broken down into a series of verses (steps). The purpose for this metaphor is twofold: (1) to emphasize that the process of course design is a creative one and (2) to remind those who participate in the learning process--teachers and students alike--that education is not only a transfer of information, skills, and ideas but also transformation: just as the experience of a great album can introduce us to a strange and wondrous new world from which we emerge a different person, so, too, can the experience of a great course of study. Whether this metaphor succeeds remains to be seen; it is like much on this album experimental.

Our goal for this course, as the album title suggests, is a straightforward one: to challenge students to imagine a new and better condition of leadership in the world by reflecting on ancient examples. This reflection is not to be casual, superficial, or ideological. It is meant to be slow, nuanced, and sustained over time. Leadership is an art, leaders are artists, and, in a sense, they are the artwork itself. Their artistry comes with a thoughtful palette of choices, imagination, ethics, relationships, emotions, motives, language, symbols, images, and historical context. True leaders in any time period are, in their hearts and minds, humanists.

Accordingly, here are some guidelines on how to enjoy this artistic and humanistic exploration of ancient leadership. Each "song" on the track-listing (located on the lefthand side of the page) treats a set of problems associated with ancient and even modern leadership. Often the focus is on the leader herself/himself. Each module contains approximately seven hours of solo activity introduced by pop-up annotations marked "Listening for Leadership" (see for example). For those who will be experiencing this course in the company of fellow students, there are additional pop-up annotations marked "Possible Group Activity." While these "songs" are in many ways self-contained, they are arranged in such a way as to build on one another in terms of theme and content. Probably there are many associations that even we, the creators, of this project have not noticed! Below you will see a brief explanation of each song and some of the overall thematic parameters of this album.

Sources and Leaders

Themes of this course

Methods of ancient leadership study

philology (exploring word origins and meaning in context)
literary criticism
archaeology and material culture

Thank you for participating in this experience with us! We hope you find it enlightening and moving. Most of us recognize that the world needs better leadership, and we encourage you to be part of the movement.--The Sunoikisis Leadership Team

UPDATE: December 14, 2016

In the fall of 2016 seven institutions and four online cohorts of non-matriculating students participated in a collaborative course on ancient leadership using this scalar site as a textbook (Brandeis University, Emory University, Findlay University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Howard University, Tulane University, the University of Texas-San Antonio):The links to the weekly common sessions may be found here.

Students in Joel Christensen's class at Brandeis created modules of their own as final projects:Brandeis student reflections, and background on their projects, may be seen here.

Thanks to everyone who made this course a great success!

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