BCIL program to offer new leadership classes

Gabe Smith, Campus Carrier staff writer

The two new classes, beginning next semester are Leading Teams and Groups and Collegiate Leadership Competition. The first is a three credit-hour course intended to promote students’ understanding of leadership concepts including group dynamics, influence, conflict management and how to conduct difficult conversations in a team setting. The second is a one credit-hour course that seeks to prepare students to compete in the Collegiate Leadership Competition, an annual conference that asks participants to complete various challenges (examples include cooperatively building a domino tower, solving a clue-based riddle, and leading your team through a maze). Competitors are evaluated by two judges: one to assess their leadership and team dynamic and another to assess their completion of the specific task. Berry will compete at the regional competition in Oxford, Ohio, in April 2020, joining institutions including the University of Georgia, Swarthmore College and the United States Air Force Academy. 

Two students enrolled in Collegiate Leadership Competition next semester, senior Emma Duke and junior Hunter Berry, said they are mostly interested in finding out what exactly the competition is, and how it works. Berry hopes the class and conference will help him to spot areas where his leadership abilities might be improved and show examples of how leadership is taught and learned at other schools. 

While the two are new to this specific competition, it is not their first experience with BCIL or leadership education at Berry. Both are enrolled in the BCIL mentor program, which connects Berry students to off-campus mentors in their area of professional interest; for Duke, it’s the COO of a company in Atlanta, for Berry, an attorney in the Rome area. 

“It’s mostly juniors and seniors, and they divide up, or section off, students based off of interest,” Duke said. “I think all of the students in our group – there are five of us – are all business majors.” 

Both Duke and Berry say the program has been extremely helpful, as it connects them to professionals that have already done what the students are planning to do. Berry, for instance, says his twice-monthly meetings with his mentor give him a chance to discuss law school, working as an attorney and simply life in general. 

Although BCIL is already working to promote leadership education across Berry’s campus, Nathaniel Pearson, director for the Center for Integrity and Leadership says he wants to develop the program further. 

“My overall hope is that we develop more leadership courses, potentially even a leadership minor, down the road,” he said. 

The Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership (BCIL) has provided mentoring opportunities for Berry students for seven years. Now, under new direction from Pearson, the program is expanding its operations to include classes and other programs. Pearson explained that the key function of BCIL is to ask students of any discipline to think about leading and influencing others in a positive way. He notes that BCIL accomplishes this function through various initiatives, including workshops, classes, and hosting speakers. On Tuesday, BCIL will host a talk with government professors on November 19 to discuss the current impeachment proceedings in Congress. 

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