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Second year students to be chosen for new leadership program headed by Kim Campbell

By Geoff McMaster

Second-year students from across the University of Alberta campus will be selected for the new program in leadership studies, which will immerse third- and fourth-year students in the most advanced thinking on leadership from diverse perspectives.

It will offer a range of seminars, workshops and experiential learning opportunities to prepare graduates for leadership in any sector, profession or location in which they choose to work or volunteer.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to get an appreciation of how people think from other disciplines,” says former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the college’s founding principal.

“I think students will find that if they have the Peter Lougheed Leadership Certificate when they graduate, it will be enormously impressive for employers and on applications to graduate school.”

Students will find mentors among a variety of off-campus leaders and senior faculty at the University of Alberta, who will bring a deeper understanding of diverse sectors, political systems and approaches to problem solving. Working in small groups, students will learn how to resolve conflict, take risks and learn from failure, make decisions based on critical thinking and sound evidence, and act on values firmly anchored in ethical and social responsibility.

Martin Ferguson-Pell, vice-principal of the new college, says the skills learned in the program are of benefit to every graduate.

“It’s reasonable to assume that all U of A students will be in a leadership position of some form—probably very shortly after they graduate,” says Ferguson-Pell.

“It may be to lead an initiative for an employer, or to help with a community-based activity they feel passionate about.”

Scholars will also learn about the human side of leadership, often referred to as “soft skills”—explored in such disciplines as behavioural economics and social and cognitive psychology. Soft skills include communicating effectively, building relationships, nurturing emotional intelligence, and setting and practising benchmarks of ethical behaviour.

“What I came to understand from my own leadership experience is that we have implicit attitudes, preconceptions and barriers we put up—not because we’re bad people, but because we’re human,” says Campbell. “But if we want to achieve justice, if we want to get the best out of people and achieve effective organizations, we need to understand this body of knowledge. “I hope students at the college will enjoy the opportunity to create that kind of self-knowledge, to understand what their strengths are and how to be emotionally intelligent, how to make diverse groups of people feel comfortable in working together.”

A highlight of the program, in the summer between third and fourth year, is the “stretch experience,” in which students take on community service, an overseas placement, a work-shadow experience or a research project—all demanding leadership acumen in a fast-paced working environment. To cap off the fourth year, students will be grouped in interdisciplinary teams to take on real-world leadership projects of global significance, the results of which are meant to make a useful and valued community contribution.

The project kicks off with a weekend workshop on project planning and management at The Banff Centre, a partner in the Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative. The general orientation, some skills training and some of the workshops for the program will be hosted by The Banff Centre at no additional cost to the students.

“This college reflects what real life is like,” says Ferguson-Pell. “In a work situation, you’re almost inevitably going to be working in a multidisciplinary setting, and you have to understand the way different disciplines function to take on a project and achieve an outcome.”

“It’s going to give you a competitive advantage in anything you want to do once you graduate from university,” says Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, recipient of the university’s honorary degree, and a strong advocate of the college.

“What an incredible opportunity for students in their second year.”

Those selected to become Lougheed Scholars will receive a scholarship of $10,000, distributed over the two years of the program. For more information and to apply, visit .

– This article was originally published by the University of Alberta

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