A monument to the 11th New York Infantry overlooks the field where Gen. George Pickett led the Confederate Army’s disastrous infantry charge on the Battle of Gettysburg’s final day. (Photo by iStock)

Lessons of Leadership

New course takes students to Gettysburg

As a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, Andrew Schanno knows a thing or two about leadership. But it wasn’t until this May, standing on Seminary Ridge with his Purdue classmates looking down on an open field in Gettysburg National Military Park, that he understood the depth of its importance.

Schanno, who recently completed Krannert’s 11-month Master of Science in Industrial Administration (MSIA) degree program, was part of a pilot course in organizational leadership that included three days at the Civil War battle site.

Through “Experiencing Leadership: A Transformational Journey from Gettysburg,” Schanno and nine other Purdue students delved into President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style and participated in case studies examining the actions of Civil War leaders who fought in the historic battle 150 years ago this July.

Krannert professor Brad Alge developed and led the course in partnership with Steven B. Wiley, president of the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg.

“The knowledge and experiences gained through this course will help students lead in stressful, uncertain situations where resources are limited and change is constant,” Alge says. “These challenges were present in 1863 and are ubiquitous in most organizations today.”

Offered for the first time this spring, the course is graduate level but also open to undergraduates and nonstudents. It provides two hours of credit, and consists of reading and online discussion followed by three days at Gettysburg. For an additional credit hour, students can continue with additional readings and leadership development planning.

At the Lincoln Leadership Institute, Alge is on a faculty of military officers, ambassadors and historians who help leaders at all levels of organizations understand how lessons from the Battle of Gettysburg can translate into actions at their companies.

Using history as a metaphor and the battlefield as a classroom, students experience how leadership can transform teams and organizations, develop essential communication skills, learn how to think strategically and critically, and discover both the rational and emotional components of being a leader.

“While some people have talked about ‘flipping the classroom,’ Professor Alge is reinventing it,” says P. Christopher Earley, Krannert dean and the James Brooke Henderson Professor of Management.

“The Krannert School is producing the next generation of global leaders, and our students have the opportunity to hone their knowledge and leadership skills all over the world. It is fitting that they now have that opportunity at one of the most important historical settings in the United States.”

1 | 2 | 3