In an increasingly fast-paced world that values those who stand out from the crowd and prove themselves as leaders, students may be feeling more pressure to develop skills that will enable them to do so. Leaders in Training, introduced to Salem College by Assistant Dean of Student Activities Dr. Alan Mueller, is a seven-week program available in the fall and spring semesters to help first-year students learn how to be leaders in the modern world and cultivate their own set of values while forming meaningful relationships with peers. The group meets for two hours once a week to participate in various activities that include questions and discussions, led by Mueller and upper-class student facilitators.
“Each week we have a topic, and topics might be things like leadership or followership or diversity or conflict management or risk-taking, but we address those topics not by teaching them per se, but by creating activities that we think will teach about them,” says Mueller. “At times it gets funny, and at other times it can get deep, you know, because if we’re going to talk about values–we’re going to talk about diversity–it can get more personal [sic].”
This semester, LIT also included an overnight retreat to a lake cabin where students could play games, engage in discussion, and become more comfortable with each other. This helped to form a community within the group to make it easier to discuss important and personal topics.
“If I am in a group that wants to talk about values together, talk about diversity together or privilege together–those deeper things–I would rather do that with people I feel a part of a community with, and so that’s a part of the magic of what the retreat is there for,” says Mueller.
Mueller also emphasized the far-reaching benefits of LIT for first-year college students. “One of the things that my [doctorate] research really showed was the idea of future framing; that we are giving tools to leaders before they’re even in formal leadership roles, which I think is critical for a thriving campus life, climate and then also just a critical for the development and growth of leaders that are going to graduate Salem and lead our world.” He also hopes that faculty members will take an interest in LIT in the future and get involved with teaching students how to lead in new and interesting ways.
LIT will be available for first-year students to participate in the upcoming spring semester. Recruiting will begin soon for those who are interested. First-years who want to prepare for their future as a leader at Salem should anticipate more information soon.