Dr. David Wilkins, a distinguished professor at the University of Richmond’s E. Claiborne Robins Leadership Studies program, exposed the Campbell University American Indian Leadership Cohort to the theoretical, philosophical, and practical aspects of leading communities.
“We live in kin-based communities where relatives link us in profound ways,” notes Dr. Wilkins, a proud member of the Lumbee tribe.
The 25-person cohort engaged in insightful Q/A about applying the theoretical ideas of leadership into day-to-day experiences. In fact, when discussing around the room, one of the first questions asked by the cohort was: ‘Who are your people?’
“It was rewarding to meet a group of individuals wanting to learn. Then taking those items to strengthen and improve their individual community,” said Dr. Wilkins.
Dr. Wilkins challenged the cohort in assimilating themselves to their own communities by formulating kinship while building the foundation of strong tribal values.
The conversations were passionate, rewarding and very useful for the group,” noted Peter Donlan, Director of Planned Giving at Campbell University. “David Wilkins created an environment of trust that facilitated these meaningful conversations. “
Participants were encouraged to engage in healthy debate over the best ways to effectively lead. Dr. Wilkins discussed the topic from a comparative perspective where he evaluated various American Indian tribal governments around how they govern.
“The most impressive thing so far is how well the group can disagree on a point, and openly discuss and debate while also being considerate of their classmates,” said Dr. Al Bryant.
“I welcome academia to the table with the hope that critical evaluation would provide examples of historical practices, culturally relevant case studies, or best practices that scholastic proposals could not only be considered but tested in real-world scenarios,” said participant Alex Baker.
One of the topics discussed was how leadership develops horizontally through the people from the people, as opposed to from the top down. Cohort members were then challenged to compare these values to western civilization and identify key trends.
“This discussion highlighted the differences between our traditional leadership ideologies and today’s contemporary western styles of governance,” noted participant Chad Pierce.
The American Indian Leadership Development Program runs in partnership with the School of Education & Human Sciences and the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs. The next session returns Jan. 12-13, 2024 at the Oscar N. Harris Student Union.