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Internationally known and respected education leaders answer your questions!

In session now:
James A. Anderson and Walter Earl Fluker

Ervin: In Chapter One of Driving Change Through Diversity and Globalization you begin with a series of questions which call for (1) a conceptual model of development that promotes diversity goals, outcomes, etc, and (2) a clarity of process for measuring achievement and excellence. Why did you choose to begin with such as introduction?

Anderson:  Over a span of some 20 years I have welcomed the opportunity to consult directly with over 300 two-year and four-year colleges and universities.  My emphasis generally was on topical areas that intersected:  persistence & retention, student learning, effective classroom teaching, and outcomes-based assessment.  An examination of the best practices, best research and best models across any of these areas suggests that these are underscored by strong conceptual models that can translate into successful operational strategies.  Thus, as I began to formulate a critical model of diversity and globalism for the book, I sought to start from a similar strong conceptual foundation.
Since most campuses have developed in-house strategic plans, business plans, and academic priorities that together serve as an institutional operational blueprint, it is imperative that the evolution of a diversity plan must consider mapping closely these strategic areas.  Failure to do so in the early stages can result in the following consequences:

  1. Diversity and globalism outcomes and/or initiatives do not become part of the long-term budgeting and planning discussions relative to the fundamental business of the university.
  2. It becomes easy to marginalize diversity in general and especially when the concept is compared to other similar areas:  international affairs, study abroad, affirmative action, etc.
  3. Definitions of “diversity” and “globalism” do not reflect their relationship to teaching, learning, and research, thus campuses can inadvertently support the development of campus activities that have NOT emerged from a strong conceptual foundation.

Ervin:  Ronald A. Crutcher, President of Wheaton College, writes in the Foreword to Driving Change Through Diversity and Globalization that you present a “guidebook for transformational change in our institutions” that is more than “lofty ideals.”  He calls the book a “thorough analysis of the challenges as well as practical examples and recommendations for successful implementation.”  Could you define your role as writer?

Anderson:  Past experiences with the naysayers  of diversity and observations of non-diversity supporters have left me with the charge to develop diversity initiatives  which might restructure the thinking and behavioral patterns of many students and faculty members when faced with diversity or any related concept.  This book contains the strong researched-based evidence which allows for the “practical examples and recommendations” referenced by Crutcher. Too, the book acknowledges the leadership gap existing on many college campuses which could be buttressed by knowledge of and support for diversity. I firmly believe that a leader cannot be “transformational” unless he/she embraces diversity. Therefore, as writer, I have settled, on “intellectual diversity” as perhaps the most critical component of any diversity definition, for it is where critical ideas about diversity develop and diversity-related dilemmas are resolved.

 

 

James A. Anderson is Chancellor of Fayetteville State University. He is also Professor of Psychology. He was previously Vice President for Student Success and the Vice-Provost for Institutional Assessment and Diversity at the University at Albany.

 


 

Ervin:  What should GEA’s audiences take away from your proverbial reference “drinking from our own well” in Chapter Two of Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character, Civility, and Community?

Fluker: The reference is taken from Latin American liberation theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez. His intention and mine is that individuals should return to their own traditions, not to the exclusion of others, but emphatically return to their own traditions as sources for creative engagement and reflection on the social and institutional practices that have historically grounded the moral life [and] dignified work and cultural productions of a people.  We should question: What are the most effective critical methods at our disposal to investigate, interrogate and to appropriate meaning from these traditions in order to address many of the major leadership issues of our time (poverty, racism, patriarchy, heterosexism, war and violence).
Hopefully, as you can see, I settled on a narrative-based strategy in the book which allows me to engage our stories within the context of traditions, institutional life and practices.  Here, narrative ethics, sometimes called virtue ethics, takes seriously symbolic power, habitus and memory. As pertaining to emerging leaders, leadership studies and training, in African American communities, and in other historically marginalized groups, this process of remembering, retelling and reliving our stories is of the utmost importance given the “post” times that cry out for morally-anchored character, transformative acts of civility and hope of community.

 

Ervin:  Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader, says your “remarkable book will soon become required reading for leaders in every organization and community.”  What particular stances do you take on “ethical leadership” that might be passed on to organizations and communities of the 21st Century?

Fluker:  Warren is generous. Leaders in this century must ask anew ancient questions of the soul:  Who am I, really?  What do I really want?  How do I get what I want? Why am I here? Am I really here? These kinds of questions are directed to more than the cognitive functioning of the mind.  Human beings (some of whom are leaders) should be asking these kinds of questions which are simultaneously questions of spirituality, ethics and leadership.  When leaders ponder these questions and not the narrow questions of utilitarian individualism, they discover their own gifts of freedom, imagination and dignity. In the book, I write also about creating a “moral ethos” within institutions. Here, I had in mind a method that leaders could use to create environments characterized by integrity, empathy and hope (character); recognition, respect and reverence (civility); and courage, justice and compassion (community).  “The Ethical Leadership Model,” which I developed in the 1990s,  uses these interactive habits, practices, and ideals to introduce leaders to effective ways to cultivate the moral ethos by first cultivating these practices at the personal, social and spiritual levels. (I always need to add that by “spiritual” I am not advocating religiosity which is always optional and dependent upon the institution or organization. 

 

Walter Earl Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership and the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project at Boston University, School of Theology.

 

In session with:
Louis Menand

James A. Anderson and Walter Earl Fluker




The United States gets “ 60 percent less for [its] education dollars in terms of average test-score results than do other wealthy nations.”  Too, “there is a striking gap between the performance of America’s top students [minorities included] and that of top students elsewhere…In 1995, America was tied for first in college graduation rates; by 2006 this ranking had dropped to 14th” (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2006).

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