On February 19th, fifteen University students participated in the CIL's first Advancing the Common Good Dinner Conversation at the home of Margaret Chutich, Assistant Dean at the Humphrey Institute. CIL's co-director, Paul Vaaler, and Executive in Residence, Paul Mooty, facilitated a dynamic conversation, sharing their perspectives and engaging students in a conversation about the nature, benefits, and challenges of Integrative Leadership as well as working across boundaries to advance the common good.
Students were asked to share their thoughts and insights from the night's event. The following quotes offer a glimpse into the conversation and students' reflections on Integrative Leadership.
"Through the dinner conversation, I was able to better understand how different sectors need to work together in order to solve public problems. Because there are many stakeholders and interests, it is important for sectors to understand one another and compromise for the common good. If one sector attempts to solve the problem alone, they will not be as successful since there are different contours to consider. These contours may be out of their focus or are unfamiliar to the sector."
- Aara J.
"I believe an integrative approach is an intentional one that requires a willingness to share ideas, power, accountability, and responsibility (among other things); discussing the skills and strategies most plausible to such an approach with peers from multiple disciplines is a fantastic way to build such a foundation for the future. If we begin our careers open to integrative possibilities, we will have much less to "un-learn" when those opportunities present themselves."
- Megan E.
"The concept of an integrated leadership was new to me before the dinner event, and I learnt a lot at the dinner."
- Rao K.
"Everyone comes in with their own perceptions of how the world works, and for them, that is it. Everybody is like this. Therefore, it is hard to find common ground or a common understanding amongst diverse groups because they are siloed. Additionally, typically people think they can get it done themselves and that they don't need outside help."
- Graham A.
"I also enjoyed being able to talk with my classmates and hear about their varied experiences and things they have been exposed to that have shaped their perception of leadership and what it means to be an integrative leader. Though I still think that some of the characteristics of integrative leaders are things that come naturally to some and not to others, I think that it is important for policy makers to understand the importance of knowledge from and communication with other sectors. The challenges of this cross-sector work seem enormous. It takes a lot of effort to get people to the point of realizing they have a common interest. Once they are at the table, pride, power, and 'what/how we always do it' are additional barriers."
- Jasmine B.
"After the conversation I was reminded how few would argue with the goal of bridging sectors, cultures or industries for the sake of advancing the common good, or addressing difficult, large scale social problems. But given that we rarely hear about this happening or even struggled to identify people who are doing this, leaves me to conclude that either it is much more difficult than it sounds or it is not the people on top (those we would otherwise hear about) that are engaging in this type of collaboration. I thought the conversation also brought to mind the importance of not always looking in the expected places or from expected people to see this type of cross sector work emerging."
- Emily P.
The next Advancing the Common Good Dinner Conversation will be held on April 16th, 2010 - an interdisciplinary opportunity for students to explore leadership through an informal dinner conversation with local leaders and University of Minnesota faculty. Students will expand their understanding of leadership by meeting and engaging in conversation with people who are leading lives committed to the common good.
For more information on the event and to apply, please visit our website.