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Undergraduate Leadership Courses - Higher Education and Student Affairs

The interdisciplinary leadership studies minor provides you knowledge in leadership theories, principles and concepts. Courses in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program contribute to, and are sequenced to meet, all minor requirements. HESA courses are structured to include theories and principles of intercultural leadership, team and organizational leadership, community leadership and personal leadership development. Completion of these classes will prepare you for future leadership and professional roles. 


HESA Leadership Courses

Team and Organizational Leadership (ESHESA 2570)
Provides an overview of the theory related to, and skills necessary for, the practice of effective leadership in team and organizational settings. Leadership is explored as an integral component of a student's career and life plan, focusing on the theory of relational leadership along with the importance of interpersonal skills and group dynamics.  At the conclusion of this course, students will demonstrate understanding of leadership theory and research, increased awareness of the personal qualities and skills they bring to leadership settings, and an increased confidence and skill in practicing leadership in the collegiate, workplace and/or community setting.  This course allows students to develop a Personal Leadership Philosophy.

Leadership in Community Service (ESHESA 2571)
An introduction to the knowledge, skills and competencies for responsible service and leadership in diverse communities. This course prepares students for engaged, responsible and active community involvement and leadership. In addition to a weekly class meeting, students engage in a required, off-campus field experience for a minimum of two hours a week. Additionally, students will: 

  1. gain an understanding of service and leadership; 
  2. analyze the settings in which service takes place; 
  3. gain hands on knowledge, skills, and experience about a specific community service organization; and 
  4. develop their own leadership styles and skills in a community setting. 

The purpose of this course is to prepare students for a lifetime of engaged, responsible and ac-tive community involvement and leadership. 

Note: This course satisfies a General Education (GE) requirement in the Open Option category: Service Learning.

Introduction to Leadership Development in Learning Organizations (ESHESA 2572)
Studying leadership requires a parallel process of internal reflection and learning about others. This course outlines concepts and strategies necessary to be an effective leader. Through a variety of leadership assessments, students learn about their leadership styles and preferences. The course defines leadership and followership, while providing students the opportunity to learn about human motivation, communication and feedback. Students enhance their skills through reading, discussion, case analyses, in-class exercises, student presentations and an in-novative consulting project

Student Organization Leadership Training (ESHESA 2575)
Leadership for social change is the focus of this course. It is designed especially for cohorts of student leaders who are working together within the context of a student organization. Courses are specifically designed for the needs of particular student organizations around the social change model of leadership. Opportunities exist within the course for student organizations to set a vision, develop goals and create theory-based plan for developing future leaders. Student organizations that wish to offer courses to members can contact Dr. Amy Barnes to discuss the process of registering a section of the course.

Diversity and Social Justice in Leadership (ESHESA 2577)
This course is built on intellectual and experiential engagement with issues of difference, diversity, social justice and alliance building. In a multicultural society that is culturally diverse yet socially stratified, discussions about difference, community and conflict are important to facilitate understanding among different social and cultural groups. Acquiring knowledge and skills for cultural understanding is essential for today’s leaders. In this course, students learn the pluralistic nature of institutions, society and culture in the United States and across the world in order to become educated, productive and principled global leaders. Note: This course satisfies a General Education (GE) requirement for Social Diversity in the United States.

Leadership and Innovation (ESHESA 3221/BUSMRH 3221)
Co-taught between the College of Education and Human Ecology and the Fisher College of Business, this leadership class is designed to challenge you to think innovatively, creatively solve problems, and receive feedback on your leadership approaches. This is a great three-credit course for students interested in applying their talents in innovative ways.

Leadership for Social Change (ESHESA 4239)
ESHESA 4239 will help students consider leadership through a lens of equity and will frame ways to reconstruct our collective understanding of leadership and leadership practice to be more inclusive and justice-oriented. In this course, students will have the opportunity to reflect on contemporary social movements and to analyze power dynamics in various leadership contexts. This class will be of particular interest to individuals who are interested in deconstructing dominant ideologies around leadership and who view themselves as future leaders of social change. As an upper-level course, it is recommended that students take ESHESA 2571S, ESHESA 2577, or a related course discussing concepts of power, privilege, and oppression prior to enrolling in ESHESA 4239.

Instructor Feature

Smiling woman holding latte

Leslie Shoaf

Instructor, Diversity and Social Justice in Leadership (ESHESA 2577)
Service Development Coordinator, Office of Distance Education and eLearning

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love being a part of student’s discovery. The moment when something clicks for them for the first time, or they’re able to describe a concept to a peer that they themselves struggled with just weeks before. It’s truly an incredible experience.

Every time I teach a course the material becomes new because the students in the course are new. They bring new perspectives and challenges and I learn more than I did before about the topics I love to teach. I love teaching ESHESA 2577 because it covers identity and systems of oppression, topics that are generally very difficult to learn about, and even more challenging to discuss with peers. This class has a way of bringing folks together, finding points of connection, empathy, and experience. In a course that many feel anxious about, by the end the resounding emotion is gratitude for their peers and the ability to discuss concepts that are often fraught with contention. It’s a truly beautiful experience to witness and be a part of.

Why would you recommend students take leadership courses?

It can be easy to think that you learn all you need to know about leadership through leadership opportunities on teams or other extracurriculars. In my experience, this leads to a belief that some folks just have the leadership gene naturally. Those with the loudest voices, the charismatic, those most able to convince others to follow. While it may be true that for some leadership comes more naturally, leadership is a muscle that you develop over time and one that looks different in every person.

It’s not just about leading, it’s also about understanding yourself, understanding others and understanding systems that you participate in as both a leader and follower. These courses act as a conduit for the intentional and reflective work needed to grow into a truly effective leader. Being able to inform choices you have to make in real life with not only the academic work that you study, but also by hearing from your peers about their experiences. It’s unique and one I believe every Ohio State student could benefit from.

What is your favorite leadership book/contact and why?

I really love to listen to podcasts. Two in particular, a TED postcast “Worklife with Adam Grant” and NPR’s “Hidden Brain.” These series highlight the unusual and insightful oddities in our world.

Adam Grant illuminates unique organizational and workplace practices that companies have enacted. His focus, as an organizational psychologist, is the innovative strategies folks take to make an impact to better serve their employees or customers.

Hidden Brain is a wealth of interesting stories. Everything from “Emotional Currency: How Money Shapes Human Relationships” to “Zipcode Destiny: The Persistent Power Of Place And Education.” It better helps me understand the motivation and experiences of individuals based in scientific data and the chemistry of the brain. I enjoy using podcasts like these and many others to challenge my thinking and broaden my horizons.

That, in addition to following folks on Twitter, watching interesting YouTube videos and gathering as much information as possible. One resource I’ve found helpful in my course is because it presents the same news stories from the three vantage points of the news media, allowing readers to see the lens used to present the same facts and information. All of these sources allow me to better understand myself, better understand the world, and most important think critically about the information being presented.


Amy Barnes, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor

Jennifer Sheridan, Academic Program Coordinator