Rediscovering leadership: A new experience offered by uOttawa’s Leadership Academy

Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Abstract painting

“At the heart of any innovative project, creative endeavour or process of social and institutional change, there is the exercise of leadership,” says Margarida Garcia, the acting vice-dean of research at the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section and the director of the Leadership Academy, a new initiative centred around leadership training, research, mentorship and transformational knowledge mobilization run by an interdisciplinary team of uOttawa professors and administrative staff.

“People often associate leadership with management and administration, but we need to start seeing leadership as broad and varied. You can be a leader in whatever field or role you occupy. Adapting to the challenges of the 21st Century requires creating, nourishing, and expanding what it means to exercise leadership. This is true in research, but also in virtually any aspect of our lives. Leadership for all — that’s what’s important to the Academy,” says Garcia.

“Increasingly, across universities, faculties are recognizing that the need for leadership exists in every discipline, though it may be expressed in different ways,” says Marc Dubé, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Stemming from a partnership between the Faculties of Law, Engineering and Social Sciences, the Leadership Academy aims to articulate an expanded vision of leadership by developing an agenda of interdisciplinary research and by hosting coaching and mentoring services for the University community.

In May 2021, the Academy will be offering a six-day training course open to professors, uOttawa support staff and members of the public. The course provides participants with the tools they need to create and see their way through meaningful projects of their choosing.

“It isn’t about looking to great leaders and trying to imitate them, or about running through a list of dos and don’ts,” says Andrew Kuntze, Research Communications Strategist at the Faculty of Law. “It’s an experience that leads you to recognize the obstacles in your way and to access the way you need to be to approach any situation as a leader.”

While this intensive format is the first such offering from the Academy, the course has already been offered to law, engineering and social sciences students as an academic course, as well as to a small group of faculty members from our ten faculties across campus.

“The Academy’s training program is an exercise in consciousness-raising, introspection and self-discovery,” says Terry Skolnik, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section who took the course in January 2021. “It has a lot to do with reflection, which in the end, naturally makes us better leaders. The course gets you to recontextualize things, so that you emerge from each meeting energized and productive. It has been one of my most striking life experiences and has changed my way of teaching and my day-to-day life.”
 

Members of the Leadership Academy in a meeting

The Leadership Academy is led by Professor Margarida Garcia, acting vice-dean research at the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section, alongside members of the Executive Committee, Professor Richard Dubé of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology; Professor Marc Dubé of the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Assistant Dean Research Cintia Quiroga of the Faculty of Law; and Andrew Kuntze, Research Communications Strategist at the Faculty of Law. This photo was taken in winter 2019.

The course will bring together leading thinkers in human development, including Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen, Jeri Echeverria and Steve Zaffron, with a tradition of critical thinking in the humanities and the sciences developed by authors like Michel Foucault, Erich Fromm, Mary Parker Follett and Francisco Varela.

Beyond the leadership training program, the Academy has a major research component focusing on the thriving field of the science of leadership. “Authentic leadership has a highly transformative effect on those who practice it, as well as on their environment and community,” says Dr. Cintia Quiroga, Assistant Dean Research at the Faculty of Law.

“There are ways of being and acting that we intuitively recognize as the hallmarks of effective leadership,” says Richard Dubé, a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology. “The Academy has set out to produce knowledge on the practice and the science behind the effective exercise of leadership.”

To inquire about the Academy’s courses, please contact leadership.academy@uottawa.ca.

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