Ivory towers and responsible leadership: a challenge for education

Cheryl Rodgers

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Responsible Leadership is a concept gaining ground in the more general zeitgeist of Corporate Responsibility. However it remains to date a less-than-well defined notion, and one in which fundamental questions arise, not least, "What do we mean by Responsible Leadership?" "What is it?" "And how might we recognise it?" Assuming we can begin to answer these questions, another follows – "Do we have the educational curricula and processes in place to educate and train Responsible Leaders, and if not, how might we develop them?" Are those in Higher Education even beginning to acknowledge and recognise the need for the development of such curricula? There is no doubt that our need for Responsible Leaders in the corporate world and in society more generally is significant and challenging; as Lovins notes, "most businesses are behaving as if people were still scarce and nature still abundant… but ... now people aren’t scarce, ...nature is" (Lovins 2007.) And neither is becoming a Responsible Leader likely to be an easy mission to undertake; Parkin for example, asserts the need to develop "a personal sustainability-leadership model" which she says will be, "as unique as a snowflake" (Parkin 2010.) Given the scale of this challenge, from where do we expect such Responsible Leaders, capable of acknowledging and responding to fundamental shifts, and of developing their own leadership models, to materialise? This paper examines the emerging definitions of Responsible Leadership and the issues surrounding it, and drawing on data from University leaders, academics and leading edge curricula, begins to postulate as to how Higher Education Systems might begin to accommodate this burgeoning requirement. As McDaniel points out, "perhaps no greater educational challenge exists than emotionally reassociating humanity with the biosphere" (McDaniel 2005.) An important element in that process must surely be the appropriate education of Responsible Leaders.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
    EventCorporate Responsibility Research Conference 2011 - Leeds, United Kingdom
    Duration: 12 Sept 201114 Sept 2011


    ConferenceCorporate Responsibility Research Conference 2011
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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