2017 International Studying Leadership Conference

December 13, 2017
Jepson School hosts conference for leadership scholars and practitioners from around the globe

The 16th annual International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC) brought leadership scholars from all over the world to the University of Richmond Jepson School of Leadership Studies from Dec. 10–12.

The Jepson School, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary year, is the first American institution to host the conference.

“This very successful international conference is yet another demonstration of the Jepson School’s prominence in the field of leadership studies, and its key place in shaping the field as a whole for the better,” said Al Goethals, who holds the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professorship in Leadership Studies and who, along with Kristin Bezio, organized the conference. “It shows what a small school with a committed team and a worthwhile goal can accomplish.”

Scholars from as far as China, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and France presented during the conference, which took place in the University’s Jepson Alumni Center. The theme of this year’s conference was “Leadership, Dissent, and Disobedience: Leadership and Followers in a Populist Age.”

“Scholars and practitioners have been addressing the positives and negatives of populist movements across history and around the globe, having truly cross-disciplinary and lively discussions about ways in which we see populism both detracting from and contributing to the major leadership questions of our age,” said Bezio, associate professor of leadership studies.

The conference kicked off on Sunday night with a presentation on “Democracy in the Trump Era,” chaired by Thad Williamson, associate professor of leadership studies and philosophy, politics, economics, and law. Other panelists included, Paul Achter, associate professor of rhetoric; Jennifer Erkulwater, associate professor of political science; and Julian Hayter, assistant professor of leadership studies.

In a nod to the School’s milestone anniversary and its role in shaping the field of leadership studies, the plenary conference speakers each had ties to the Jepson School. Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and president emeritus of Washington & Lee University, presented “Humility as a Political Virtue” for Monday’s plenary event. Ruscio served as the third dean of the Jepson School from 2002–2006 and was the 2016–17 Jepson School leader-in-residence.

Joanne B. Ciulla, who currently serves as professor of leadership ethics in the Department of Business and as global management research director of The Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, gave Tuesday’s plenary presentation, “Perceptions and Pitfalls of Leadership.” Ciulla is professor emerita at the Jepson School and a founding faculty member of the school.

In 2018 ISLC will return to the United Kingdom to be hosted by Lancaster University Management School.