DPI-720: Leaders and Leadership in History

Semester: Fall

Credit: 1.0

Faculty: Moshik Temkin


Day Time Location
First Day 9/2
Meet Day HKS


Do leaders make history or does history make leaders? This course will address this question by focusing on leaders and leadership in particularly trying historical circumstances. How did certain people arrive at leadership positions? What choices did they make in difficult situations? How do we evaluate their successes or failures? What makes them stand out (for better or worse) or recede from memory over time? What kinds of lessons can we learn from their careers? We will address these core questions through a critical examination of a series of twentieth century historical cases, proceeding in rough chronological order. Some are considered unquestionable successes and others partial or even abject failures. In some cases, these were national or world leaders; in other cases, these were unsung or informal leaders. Often the leadership in question was not by any particular individual but by a group or collective. We will also look at social leaders, leadership within bureaucracies, reluctant leadership, self-defeating leadership, non-heroic leadership, and dissenting leadership. Through the use of history and historical thinking, and drawing on a variety of sources and cases both American and international (with an emphasis on films), the goal of the course is to permit you to become more self-conscious, historically-minded, and reflective in thinking about leadership-your own and that of others-in a variety of public and policy settings.






John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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