SPA 362 – Spring 2019
Leadership Development  Lab II

Wednesdays 5:30pm-8pm

James M. Quirk, Ph.D.
Teaching Assistants:

This is the course’s main page 

Link to our Schedule of Assignments

Joint Fall-Spring SPA 362 SPA Leadership Goals

spa-l banner photo

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all – Aristotle

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other – John F. Kennedy

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence – Martin Luther King, Jr.

No one puts their children in a boat
Unless the water is safer than the land – Warsan Shire


Welcome to SPA 362 part II – where you bring together a lot of the ideas and work you’ve been thinking about and deliver your social action leadership projects.

The semester, as you already know, has two parts.  Seeking to address a public affairs problem you’ve identified, you will execute the plans you’ve been making on your social action leadership project.  And you’ll continue your classroom-based studies of leadership.  We’ll do this by looking at a series of biographies and autobiographies, and seeking lessons from the leadership theories and typologies you’ve learned in your previous SPA-L courses.

Learning Outcomes

In fact, this midway point in your SPA-L program might be a good time to go back and look at the program curriculum and its goals, to consider your place in the path.  It identifies the learning goals of the program overall and the learning outcomes of SPA 362 fall and spring semesters.

In short, this semester you will continue to grow in a wide range of professional skills as you develop, execute, and present your social action leadership project.  You will apply the lessons of leadership theory from previous semesters to your project and to our biographies of diverse leaders from government, business, peace, media, technology, the arts, and education.  You will be able to identify, compare, and apply a breadth of leadership theory and applications to historical and current leaders and to the public affairs problem you are working to address in your project.

And you will have accomplished a significant undertaking – your project – by developing relationships with a wide variety of on-campus resources and off-campus experts, by applying the leadership theories you have learned in the last two years, by communicating these efforts to different audiences, and by practicing the dull, crucial arts of event planning.

leadersOffice hours  

I will hold regular office hours; we will discuss in class.  I would like to meet with each of you at least once during the first few weeks – I will circulate an online sign-up sheet.  In addition, I will hold online “midnight office hours” during certain parts of the semester.

You can reach me at my AU email, which I will check each morning. You can reach me most of the time on our facebook group, or by fb msg.  The fb group is “closed” – your classmates and I can only see your “public” profile (maybe this is a good time to check your privacy settings).  We’ll use it for some tasks in our class, and for notices, discussions of current events, etc.  (We’ll also talk about whether it would be easier for future students if I used a different app for this.)

You’ll also meet regularly with your Teaching Assistant – probably at least weekly; we’ll work this out

Required texts

There is no textbook to purchase.  I will make our readings for each week available here and/or on Bb.  Please be sure you’ve read and considered the readings before you come to class each week.

Your Deliverables

Make sure you have this date clear:  All SPA 362 students will present posters of their completed social action leadership projects at the

SPA Leadership Symposium and Alumni Reception,
5pm, Tuesday, April 23 
(site TBA, probably MGC 3).   That means your project will be completed before then.

* You should aim for your projects to be finished by early to mid April, almost certainly by Friday, April 12.  Projects must be completed by Wednesday, April 17. 

AU provides high-quality poster-printing services in the library, for about $10.  We will have a poster-making expert from the library come to class to discuss best-practices and how to schedule a poster-printing appointment. You’ll also have a written assignment due after your project is complete.

Each week, we’ll have a range of readings to be read before class and to discuss in class. Each week, you’ll bring to class short written answers to one or more prompts.  Groups of you will also each have one week assigned in which you will provide leadership in the class discussions for that week. We’ll discuss this in class.  (No, that doesn’t let you off the hook for your full, active, attentive participation in other weeks 🙂

You will be asked to update your AU SPA-L online portfolio, and to create or update a professional LinkedIn profile.  You will also show me a passport or a completed passport application.

We will also have a final reflection that brings together your project and our readings from throughout the semester.  It will combine an academic approach on our various leadership biographies and a reflection on your social action leadership project – the personal and professional lessons you are taking away.

By next week, we’ll have a detailed point-by-point outline of the graded portions of this course.  I understand that one of your key goals and metrics is your course grade.  But that cannot be your only goal, and in a class like this, probably shouldn’t even be your primary one.  You might someday forget how to analyze late-medieval poetry or the details of the 25th Amendment.  But the personal and professional lessons from your social action project will last a long time.

Course Expectations

Some of this should be unnecessary to spell out, but I offer it to you here.

Your responsibilities include class attendance, thorough reading of the assignments before class, and class participation.  You are responsible for all the reading material regardless of whether we discuss it in class, and for all class discussions regardless of whether the material relates to an assigned reading.  Attendance is not optional; you need to meet with me to discuss any absences, before class.  Unexcused absences will count against your grade. Additionally, there may be required attendance for guest lecturers at times other than the normal class schedule.

Each class may begin with at least one student selected, without prior notice, to discuss and answer questions about the readings or current events.  The pedagogy here is to prepare you for meetings when you are, unexpectedly, asked to give a presentation to a client, boss, etc., not just to ensure you do the readings.  Notice: Pop quizzes may be assigned.

Additionally, I will post news items on the course’s and or SPA-L’s facebook pages. You are invited to post on our course fb page as well, and to comment on mine or anyone else’s.

You should complement your study of leadership with an increased awareness of current events. I know you already know all the new online-only sources – but it’s worth remembering some of their predecessors as well.  At a minimum, you should be familiar each morning with the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post, spending significant time with at least one of them. You should also see the Wall Street Journal (, the Harvard Business Review. We’ll talk about various other online sources as well. This is an excellent time to get out of your “info silo,” if you are in one.  AllSides tries to do this – identifying stories about the same topic from different sources that it judges to be the left, center, and right.  And be sure to read your hometown newspaper — it has important things we overlook here inside the Beltway.  You can find small and large newspapers from the U.S. and around the world at the Newseum site.

For fun, you should check in with Monkey Cage, the Washington Post’s column on political science research.  We will discuss a number of other academic, news, and punditry outlets as well.

And if you are not a science/tech person but want to be a leader in the 21st century, you should familiarize yourself with Wired.comIEEE Spectrum, and AAAS Science.  You don’t have to understand the science or the tech, but you should understand the questions being raised.


As we talked about in class, grades are temporary markers of certain achievements and some demonstrations of learning.  But they may bear little relationship to actual service and leadership and to other kinds of learning.  I know grades are important to you for the moment, though, and so we’ll start with this outline, divided evenly between coursework and your social action project. We’ll discuss the details of each of these activities/deliverables in class.

Coursework – 50%

Participation:  Attendance, TA meetings, class participation, etc., 10 %
N.b.  Class attendance and TA meetings are required, not grade-boosting
Weekly written reflections/analyses (eight), 30 %
Your group’s preparation/presentation (one of those eight weeks), 10 %

Social Action Project – 50%

Week 3 – Project Plan, 5%
Week 6 – Project Update, 5%
Week 11 – Project Update, 5%
By April 12: Social Action Project – Execution/Deployment, 12.5%
April 23: Poster and Presentation – SPA-L Symposium, and in-class, 10%
Week 15 – Project Reflection and Analysis, 12.5%

Center for Diversity and Inclusion: Intergroup Dialogues

You might be interested in these small-group, sustained conversations gathering people from multiple backgrounds and identities for for two-hours each week.  Learn more here

Our Best Selves

Finally, in our classroom, online, and elsewhere, we will approach each other and our material with humility, generosity, and what we’ll call micro-benevolences: offering small acts of compassion and goodwill.  We will all assume best intentions from and among each other, and we’ll approach disagreements and misunderstandings will honesty, integrity, and the intention that we will grow together as a community in the classroom, on campus, and in Washington.  

Link to our Schedule of Assignments

The University asks faculty to include a range of additional information with the syllabus:

If you experience difficulty in this course for any reason, please do not hesitate to consult with me, without delay. In addition to the resources of the department, a wide range of services is available to support you in your efforts to meet the course requirements.

Academic Integrity.  The University asks faculty members to include in a syllabus information on academic integrity, emergency preparedness, and additional support services. You should notice that some offices and services have been re-organized and re-located since last spring.  From the University:

The University emphasizes that all students are required to follow the University’s Academic Integrity Code.  If you have not already done so, please familiarize yourself with the standards and requirements of the University’s Academic Code of Conduct.   Violations of the Code of Conduct will not be tolerated and will be reported appropriately.  Please see me with any questions on the Academic Integrity Code.  Website:

Academic integrity is much more than looking over the shoulder of a classmate during an exam or obvious plagiarism. Issues include, but are not limited to, giving or receiving work not meant to be shared, and representing someone else’s work as your own.  You should particularly note that in academics and in the real world, with issues of plagiarism there is often a presumption of guilt, not innocent until proven guilty.  You should carefully examine the information at

You can also get support on these and other issues from AU’s Writing Center.

* My own perspective:  Some instances that raise questions of academic integrity are genuine opportunities for learning moments. Others are intentional, severe insults against your fellow students. There are at least two difficulties with academic integrity.  The first is that regarding plagiarism, there is inside and outside of academia a presumption of guilt.  Understand what plagiarism is, and work vigilantly to avoid it. The second is that academic integrity is multi-directional.  The USMA honor code requires that you “will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Academic integrity goes beyond merely upholding academic and ethical standards –   Academic integrity builds trust and fosters respect (  If/when we engage in policy discussions, we will not typically seek “agreement”; rather, we will strive to evaluate issues from a variety of perspectives with respect, humility, and generosity.  Political science courses are especially conducive to – and vulnerable to – the exchange of sharp differences of opinions. I am confident that simple a request to be mindful and appreciative of the backgrounds, experiences, and opinions of each other is unnecessary – but I mention it here anyway.

* In our classroom, online, and elsewhere, we will approach each other and our material with humility, generosity, and what we’ll call micro-benevolences: offering small acts of compassion and goodwill.  We will all assume best intentions from and among each other, and we’ll approach disagreements and misunderstandings will honesty, integrity, and the intention that we will grow together as a community in the classroom, on campus, and in Washington.

Emergency Preparedness. American University prepares for emergencies that could be geophysical, criminal, political, epidemiological, meteorological, WMATA, or other.  The show, as they say, must go on.  To that effect, text from the University:

In an emergency, AU will use the communication tools the university has at its disposal in as timely a manner as possible using AU Alerts. These messages will provide information on what is happening, what to do, and links to available additional information.

Should the university be required to close for a period of time, we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of our educational programs will be delivered to our students.  These may include altering and extending the duration of the traditional term schedule to complete essential instruction in the traditional format and/or use of distance instructional methods.  Specific strategies will vary from class to class, depending on the format of the course and the timing of the emergency.  Faculty will communicate class-specific information to students via AU e-mail and Blackboard, while students must inform their faculty immediately of any absence due to illness.  Students are responsible for checking their AU e-mail regularly and keeping themselves informed of emergencies.

Our communication tools include text and email alerts, the university’s home pageFacebook, and Twitter, the general information line 202-885-1100, indoor yellow AlertUs emergency beacon boxes and outdoor speakers located throughout campus. 

You can customize whether you receive alerts as e-mail and/or text messages. Add additional work or home phone numbers and e-mail addresses so AU Alerts reach you no matter where you are when an emergency occurs.

Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC).  ASAC provides a wide range of support for students of all academic abilities. I urge you to see their web site and make a visit.  From the University:

ASAC supports the academic development and educational goals of all American University students and is committed to providing access for individuals with disabilities within the university’s diverse community.

Academic Support & Access Center
Mary Graydon Center (MGC), Room 243; telephone 202-885-3360 
M–F: 9am–5pm · 

If you haven’t found The Writing Center yet, you need to, and learn what they do.

Notice from the University on Harassment, Discrimination, and Related Concerns. The University offers a wide range of services to prevent and address these concerns.  The AU Public Safety emergency number is 3636 – 202-885-3636.  All local D.C., Maryland, and Virginia locations use 911 for police, fire, and ambulance emergencies.

AU’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion works to advance “American University’s commitment to respecting & valuing diversity,” including but not limited to LGBTQ, multicultural, first generation students, women, and international students,

International students can get additional support from the office of International Students and Scholars  From the University:  

American University expressly prohibits any form of discriminatory harassment including sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The university is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution that operates in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual’s genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws in its programs and activities.

If you experience any of the above, you have the option of filing a report with the AU Department of Public Safety (202-885-2527) or the
Office of the Dean of Students ( or 202-885-3300).

Please keep in mind that all faculty and staff – with the exception of counselors in the Counseling Center, staff in the Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence, medical providers in the Student Health Center, and ordained clergy in the Kay Spiritual Life Center – who are aware of or witness this conduct are required to report this information to the university, regardless of the location of the incident.

For more information, including a list of supportive resources on and off-campus, contact OASIS: The Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence ( or 202-885-7070), or the Office of the Dean of Student (

Student Success and Well-Being.  Faculty also have resources to initiate student support.  These include the Early Warning System, which alerts students to poor performance in a course, and the Care Network, which engages students who may be struggling with a range of issues and assists in problem solving.

Faculty may initiate these at any time during the semester. The aim is to make it possible for faculty, staff, and students to work together to resolve many of the challenges students often face.

Nota bene. This syllabus is flexible and may be changed at any time. You are well advised to keep up with the readings. You will be expected to have them completed before the beginning of each class.