As the spring semester draws to a close, three HDS students discuss their favorite courses of the semester.
Erika Carlsen, 3rd year MDiv:
My favorite class this semester so far has been Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change, offered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (HKS). In this class, we’ve learned about the difference between exercising leadership and authority, understanding the different ways in which group dynamics can affect our ability to effect change in a given system, and strategies for mobilizing groups to face difficult topics head-on. In addition to our weekly class, we also meet in a small group each week where one individual is responsible for presenting on a leadership failure she or he experienced, after which s/he petitions the wisdom of the group to help her/him address the blind spots that might have led to that failure. It’s a dynamic class filled with students from HKS, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and some cross registrants from the MIT Sloan School of Management. This diverse mix of students lends itself to one of the most interesting and engaging learning environments I’ve found at Harvard thus far.
Rod Owens, 1st year MDiv:
This semester I am taking a course called Sexualities and Gender in the African Diaspora offered by Dr. Jennifer Leath, a visiting professor. It is a course that explores our construction of sexuality and gender within communities of African descendants and how we can challenge these constructions within the context of religious expression. I am also a member of a reading group called Racial Justice in Relief where the practice of racial justice is examined in the work of several writers, including Ida B. Wells, Bayard Rustin, Howard Thurman, Dorothy Day, etc. The reading group is also taught by Dr. Leath and is an extension of dialogues connected to liberatory models of education and transcending suffering of difference.
My favorite class this semester is Administration and Leadership, with professors Emily Click and Laura Tuach. Emily Click has us journal about leadership questions every week, write a personal mission statement, and do debates and role plays. Everything is treated as an experiment and growth opportunity. We’re encouraged to bring our whole selves to the classroom, take an honest look at ourselves, be vulnerable with one another, and make our own unique contributions. Last week, Laura Tuach started section by having us get out our journals and asked: “What is your sense of overall driving purpose? What have you been put on earth to do? What brings you irrepressible joy?”