Montana State University

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Course on politics, virtue and leadership to be offered through Year of Engaged Leadership


As part of the Year of Engaged Leadership, undergraduates have the opportunity to enroll in PSCI 291: Politics, Virtue & Leadership, taught by professor Sara Rushing.

The course, held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-11:50 a.m., is organized around the following questions: What makes a character trait a "virtue"? What defines the tradition of "virtue ethics"? What can we learn from critically analyzing how specific virtues are defined in different religious and cultural contexts, historical moments and political (i.e. power) formations? What does contemporary discourse on leadership look like, and what does engaging this discourse teach us about "virtue," "leadership," our contemporary political and economic life, and our society's values, ideals and anxieties? Do ethical considerations ever impose limits on effective leadership? Must there be "followers" for there to be a leader? Does this mean that thinking about leadership implies thinking hierarchically? Is that a problem? Finally, what is "servant leadership"?

Over the course of the semester students will primarily explore texts in Western political thought from the Classical, Medival, Modern and Contemporary eras. Class participants will also draw on sources from Confucian thought, which is distinctly concerned with the question of virtuous leadership.

This course will involve two 50-minute lectures a week and one smaller section lead by a Teaching Assistant. A wide variety of readings will be touched on in lecture, but the assigned readings for the week will be explored through engaged discussion in section.

For more information, contact Rushing at srushing@montana.edu or Linda Young, head of the political science department, at 406-599-2570 or lmyoung@montana.edu.