From the readings of classical texts on political thought, to Western and Eastern literature which reflect the range of human civilization, participants will analyse leadership and core values at the heart of changing societies.
This seminar, as with all Aspen gatherings, will bring together a group of distinguished participants from different sectors of society, who’ll use the neutral forum for reflection and debate on themselves as leaders, but also the current and future state of democratic societies.
The “Leadership in Flux” seminar will encourage its participants to explore the geo-political, material, and social forces at the root of worldwide tensions today. It will ask them to consider the leadership possibilities that these trends have invited and perhaps enabled. They will weigh our evolving desires; assess what it takes to create a marketplace; debate whether there are historic constants in authority and autonomy, and end by envisioning and then building a shared, technology-enhanced future.
Between nature and civility, poverty and power, loyalty and rebellion, data and human dignity, we find the leadership that makes us whole.
This seminar will be moderated by Leigh Hafrey, Senior Lecturer in Behavioural and Policy Sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management. It is organised in collaboration with The Aspen Institute (US).
When: 13:00, 13 September to 1400, Sunday 15 September
Where: Rhodes House in Oxford.
Participants will stay in Christchurch College, Oxford.
Leigh Hafrey is Senior Lecturer in Behavioural and Policy Sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Since 1995, he has offered courses in communication, ethics, and leadership in the MBA and other graduate programs in the U.S. and abroad. He has also taught at Harvard Business School; served as co-Master of Mather House, one of the undergraduate residences in Harvard College; and for more than 20 years has moderated seminars in programs of the Aspen Institute. He serves on the boards of the Green Rural Opportunities Fund, a spin-off of the Butajira, Ethiopia-based GreenPath Food, and ClassACT HR73, an alumni initiative of the Harvard-Radcliffe Class of 1973. A former staff editor at The New York Times Book Review, Hafrey has published translations from French and German and columns, feature articles, essays, reviews, and interviews in The New York Times and other periodicals, as well as blog posts and business case studies for MIT Sloan. He is the author of two books on values and leadership, The Story of Success: Five Steps to Mastering Ethics in Business (2005) and War Stories: Fighting, Competing, Imagining, Leading (2016).
Aspen’s proven method of text-based dialogue offers participants a safe forum in which to reflect on the current state and future of geo-political, material, and social forces. Participants emerge from Aspen seminars personally renewed, professionally refocused, and more prepared to lead as they confront the difficult economic, political and social choices before them.
In a setting that is conducive to thought and collaboration, each Aspen Seminar convenes a diverse and small group of leaders for lively and intensive roundtable discussions led by a skilled moderator. Classic and contemporary texts which reflect the breadth of human civilisation form the starting points to rich conversations and debates, in which the questions posed by the group are frequently as revealing and varied as the texts themselves.
The readings are from a wide range of international authors, both classic and contemporary, and are designed to clarify our current predicament and explore what action leaders might follow. Texts to be considered include works by John Locke, Seamus Heaney, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Hamid Mohsin.
Participants will receive the collections of readings a month before the Aspen seminar takes place, to give them time to read them all once, or twice.
The texts are chosen and arranged to assist the participants in examining themselves and our world, and have three complementary roles:
- The texts anchor the discussion by giving everyone a common starting point in the exploration of fundamental human values
- They are the intellectual tools for helping participants analyse moral problems and the tensions inherent values-based decision making
- They are the springboards which challenge them to reaffirm and re-think their fundamental values and the ways in which they live their lives.
The texts and conversations are not designed to lead the participants to any particular conclusion. What each person will take home from the seminar will depend on the concerns they bring to the discussions, and the openness with which they approach the texts and other people taking part.
The Moderator will facilitate the text based dialogue. They will not lecture, nor supply answers. But they will ask questions about the texts, and about the way those texts challenge us to rethink our roles as leaders and as members of society. Our aim is that rare occurrence – a genuine conversation about what matters most.
An Aspen seminar is a collaborative journey. With the help of an experienced moderator, each attendee contributes his or her reflections, experiences and curiosity to the conversation. And from that the success of the seminar depends on each person contributing, and allowing others to do so. The work of an Aspen seminar is cumulative, its transformative impact is only felt when everyone is truly engaged.
‘Attending the Aspen seminar is a must-do experience in these turbulent times. Stepping back from the daily race, confronting viewpoints and ideas, strengthening resolve to lead by example and make the right decisions, the world deserves no less from its leaders.’
Olivier Brousse – Chief Executive Officer of John Laing Group plc
‘Leaders are increasingly confronted with moral dilemmas not technocratic problems. This seminar addresses head on these moral questions providing structured space for reflection and helps individuals to understand their own moral compass. It’s life changing’
Sir Stuart Etherington – Chief Executive, The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
‘Attending a range of Aspen seminars was life changing for me. These conversations and the bonds with other participants helped give me tools and confidence to move beyond business to a much broader aspiration for impact.’
Charles Conn, CEO, Oxford Sciences Innovation
‘The Aspen seminar didn’t only help me to revisit and rethink the values shaping my environment, but it also provided a space for an inspiring and fun exchange of ideas’.’
Rita Dayoub, Health in conflicts specialist and Academy fellow at Chatham House