Jepson School of Leadership Studies classes don’t typically start with a musical sing-a-long. But Dr. Kerstin Soderlund’s Roadmap to Success short course, The Hamilton Revolution: Leading Change In & Through the Arts, isn’t your typical class, and the students filtering into the classroom don’t miss a beat when joining in with the soundtrack to the Broadway hit.

“I choose The Hamilton Revolution idea because — as my colleagues and most students who know me know — I love the arts,” says Soderlund, who is the associate dean for student and external affairs at the Jepson School.

The course was part of the Roadmap to Success Program, which helps new freshmen transition to college-life through a pre-semester experience and events throughout the year. During the five-session class, students examined a variety of leadership concepts and theories, such as shared, team, servant, and adaptive leadership, multiple intelligences and emotional intelligence, and social change.

“The course used Hamilton and Hamilton-related items,” explains Soderlund, “but also addressed other elements of the arts in the context of leadership.”

To prepare for the class, students read a chapter from The Leader’s Companion, by Jepson School professor emeritus Dr. Tom Wren, watched the PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America,” and researched challenging artistic pieces and the movements they create.

“I want the students to get some sense of a Jepson course,” says Soderlund, “though I do provide a disclaimer that the course barely scratches the surface in terms of leadership studies.”

Based on their preview of leadership studies, students analyzed Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s leadership style, which they thought best fit with servant leadership.

Although Soderlund, who has also taught Roadmap courses on bad leadership and Harry Potter, stressed that students should not expect singing and rap battles in Jepson School classes, using the lens of the arts to examine the complex topic of leadership is nothing new to the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, which offers courses like Leadership and the Humanities, Leadership on Stage and Screen, and Folk Music and Protest Thought.

Soderlund adds, “I also want to have fun with this group of students talking about the arts and help them understand the critical role they (the arts) can play in terms of creating change, invoking discussion and critique of our society, etc.”

At the Roadmap showcase on August 23, students shared, reflected on, and rapped about what they learned in the class.