Bennis Scholars Experiences

Honors Colloquium

The academic cornerstone of the program is the Honors Colloquium entitled “The Art of Ethical Leadership.”  Students enroll in this 1-unit course for each of the final four semesters of their baccalaureate degree (4 units total).  Each semester features a particular theme: Introduction to Leadership, Leadership in the Social Sector, Leadership in Politics and Public Service, and Leadership of Organizations.  Over the four semesters, students read a variety of books, articles, and view films about historically great leaders and are exposed to the contemporary practices of leaders in a variety of business, government, professional, and community organizations.  Students engage in classroom discussions intended to analyze how such individuals behaved as leaders, why they did so, to what effect, and what lessons they personally draw on.

Guest Speakers and Networking Events

Scholars have specialized access to industry and thought leaders.  In Fall 2016, Scholars were invited to The Jerry and Nancy Neely Center for Ethical Leadership’s inaugural symposium “The Practice of Ethical Business Leadership: Whys, Hows and Challenges.”  This event featured the following keynote speakers: Charles Handy (Britain’s leading spokesperson for management training and strategy), Kirk O. Hanson (Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University), and Ronald Sugar, Ph.D. (Retired Chairman and Chief Executive, Northrup Grumman) as well as a salute to Trader Joe’s founder, Joe Coulombe.  Guest speakers and site visits are also incorporated into the Honors Colloquium.

Skill-building Workshops

Students gain access to workshops focused on key leadership development skill-building, such as self-awareness, effective communication, and decision-making.  Workshops are limited to Scholars and thus provide cohorts an in-depth exploration of leadership competency areas and application.

Coaching and Mentoring

Scholars receive individualized coaching to focus and support their leadership development growth.  As part of coaching, students routinely set goals, engage in development planning, and reflect on their progress.  Students receive mentoring from the program professors as well as practitioners in the field.

Small-group Discussions

As part of a small cohort community, Scholars often engage in small-group discussion through the Honors Colloquium, but also through dialogues centered on specific topics of interest.  In Fall 2016, a Scholar arranged a small-group discussion on the 2016 presidential election and leadership.


Out of the classroom experiences provide opportunities for Scholars to explore leadership in a variety of contexts.  Additionally, students participate in informal gatherings and off-campus trips to facilitate community development within their cohort.

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