Leadership and the Common Good

What is well-being for individuals and societies, and how do leaders help communities to achieve it?

In this course, students examined political, economic, moral, and religious approaches to how societies determine and pursue the common good.

Inside the Classroom

The course was structured around the comparative exercise of conceiving, measuring, and achieving collective goals. What is well-being, how do individuals and societies determine it, and how do leaders help communities to achieve it? How do different societies balance, or trade off, individual and collective welfare? How have leaders in various contexts moved citizens to embrace common goals?

In talk of common good, which interests are prioritized and which are left out? The principal political contexts of comparison were the U.S., Scandinavian countries, and Mediterranean Europe.

Outside the Classroom

Outside the classroom, students connected what they were learning in class by meeting with speakers hailing from various countries and world views to discuss their visions of the common good, including a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with a leader in the U.S. Congress, and attending lectures.

In 2011–12, students took a community trip to Madrid and Granada to meet with leaders, nonprofits, and professors in Spain to see the leadership models that the students studied in the fall semester, firsthand.

Research and Capstone Project

Over the course of the fall semester students researched a country's leadership culminating in a research paper on one topic due at the end of the fall semester. Over the spring semester, students worked in groups with their classmates to create a capstone project and subsequent presentation to the University community.

For the capstone project, groups chose a country, analyzing it in terms of a set of tradeoffs—individual versus collective goods; equality versus efficiency; theory versus practice—and how well or poorly leaders in that country have helped articulate and achieve communal goals.