Citizenship, Community, and Leadership

Honors 390 (section 8, 3 credits)
Course Day/Time: T/Th 11-12:15
Instructor: David J. Roof
Course Title: Citizenship, Community, and Leadership
Course CRN: 26509

Course Description

This course seeks to engage you in a journey that delves into the intersections of citizenship, community involvement, and leadership development. We will explore the question of what it means to lead a purposeful and meaningful life in the context of our community and a democracy. We will critically examine the responsibilities of engaged citizenship, ethical leadership, and the role of community in shaping individual perspectives.

This course isn’t lectures and textbooks—it seeks to foster an ongoing discussion about active participation and meaningful engagement. In our quest for understanding, we’ll dive deep into discussions on engaged citizenship and the ethical dimensions of leadership. From dissecting classic speeches from Frederick Douglass to exploring the philosophies of thinkers like Arendt, Berlin, and Du Bois, you’ll be challenged to critically examine the complexities of our social and political landscape. Our approach will prioritize in-depth exploration, vibrant discussions, and dialog across differences. From Habermas’s emphasis on rational discourse to Popper’s insights on open societies, each reading and class discussion will offer a unique lens through which to examine the complexities of citizenship, community, and leadership in today’s world. This course will be of particular interest to American Studies, History, Sociology, English as well as anyone in the broad social sciences.

Honors 390: Citizenship, Community, and Leadership”

Scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15, this 3-credit Honors 390 (Course CRN: 26509) course Citizenship, Community, and Leadership will not just be another classroom lecture series. Instead, it promises to be a vibrant, discussion-driven exploration into what it means to live a purposeful life within a democratic community. Through an interdisciplinary approach, you will delve into the complexities of social and political participation, scrutinizing the responsibilities that come with engaged citizenship and the ethical considerations of leadership.

Why This Course?

  • Rising Rates of Despair: Research indicates significant increases in depression, substance abuse, suicides, and a decline in close friendships and marriage rates, a picture of a society struggling with despair and isolation.
  • A Sense of Purpose: The absence of a sense of civic purpose and commitment to community has left people ethically inarticulate, a cycle of social pain that manifests as bitterness and hostility.
  • Politicization of Identity: Politics has become a substitute for community and deeper sense of citizenship turning social and ethical issues into divisive political battles, exacerbating loneliness, and reducing complex moral questions to binary political identities.
  • Fixing the Problem: While technology, social isolation, demographic changes, and economic inequality are all cited as contributing factors for increasing isolation and depression, several people have noted the societal shift away from a sense of purpose and responsible citizenship.
  • The course is designed to inspire you to take action and reflect on your role within our communitiy and our broader democratic fabric. By critically examining speeches from historical figures like Frederick Douglass and analyzing the thoughts of philosophers such as Hannah Arendt and Karl Popper, you will be challenged to reevaluate your perspectives on citizenship, community, and leadership.

    What Can You Expect?

  • Exploration of Life’s Fundamental Questions: This course invites you to ponder questions about life, purpose, and a reflective examination of your values and beliefs.
  • Interdisciplinary Approach: Drawing on insights from philosophy, history, psychology, and other disciplines, this course will offer a rich tapestry of perspectives on how to find meaning in life.
  • Practical Wisdom: This course will offer practical advice and strategies for aligning one’s actions with broader goals and values, seeking to help you live more intentionally and meaningfully.
  • Personal Stories and Examples: Through narratives, this course will illustrates how different individuals have navigated the search for meaning, providing relatable insights and lessons learned.
  • Call to Action: This course will challenge you to take an active role in defining and pursuing your own conception of a meaningful life, suggesting that such a pursuit is essential for personal fulfillment and societal well-being.
  • For those interested in joining this innovative course and becoming part of a dynamic learning community committed to making a real difference, please reach out to Honors College Dean Jim Buss at for enrollment permission and further information.

    Draft Reading List

    Friedrich Nietzsche (selections) “On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic”
    Frederick Douglass – “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
    Isaiah Berlin – “Two Concepts of Liberty”
    W.E.B. Du Bois – Selected Writings on Civil Rights and Activism
    Jürgen Habermas – “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article”
    Karl Popper – “The Open Society and Its Enemies”
    Hannah Arendt – “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”
    Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”
    Jane Addams’s”Twenty Years at Hull House”
    Lewis Mumford’s “The Culture of Cities”
    Robert K. Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership”
    Martin Buber’s “I and Thou”
    Viktor E. Frankl’s (selections) “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

    Course Structure

    Unit 1: The Foundation of Community (Weeks 1-4)

    Identifying and living according to one’s values and principles. This section might explore various ethical frameworks and how they can guide individuals in making life choices that align with their core beliefs. The role of relationships and a sense of community is another significant theme. This part usually emphasizes the importance of connecting with others and contributing to the welfare of the community as pathways to a meaningful life.

    Week 1: Introduction: Course overview and discussion of a meaningful life.

    Week 2: Historical and Cultural Perspectives on Community: Examination of the role of communities in historical movements, including readings from Frederick Douglass.

    Week 3: Community Impact on Individual and Collective Identity: Exploration of Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of liberty and discussions on community dynamics.

    Week 4: Engaging With Community: Practical activities focusing on understanding and serving our community, with an emphasis on project-based learning.

    Unit 2: Citizenship in a Democratic Society (Weeks 5-8)

    Week 5: The Role and Responsibilities of Citizens: Insights into engaged citizenship and the works of W.E.B. Du Bois on civil rights and activism.

    Week 6: Democracy and Rational Discourse: Readings from Jürgen Habermas on the public sphere and the importance of communication in democracy.

    Week 7: Challenges to Democratic Societies: Study of Karl Popper’s analysis of open societies and contemporary societal challenges.

    Week 8: Civic Engagement and Public Service

    Activities and discussions on how to practically engage in civic life and influence democratic processes.

    Unit 3: Ethical Leadership (Weeks 9-11)

    Week 9: Understanding Ethical Leadership: Introduction to the ethical dimensions of leadership, including readings from Hannah Arendt.

    Week 10: Leadership in Historical and Contemporary Contexts
    Analysis of leadership roles in historical movements and contemporary society.

    Week 11: Developing Leadership Skills: Workshops and guest speakers focusing on cultivating leadership skills for social change.

    Unit 4: Integration and Application (Weeks 12-15)

    Legacy and Impact: the concept of legacy and how individuals can leave a positive impact on the world and be remembered by others—is a common closing theme. This might include reflections on service, making a difference, and how to ensure one’s life has a lasting, positive effect on others.

    Week 12: Community Involvement Projects: Planning and initiation of group projects that integrate learning about citizenship, community, and leadership.

    Week 13-14: Project Implementation and Reflection: Execution of community projects with ongoing reflections on the role of leadership and citizenship.

    Week 15: Course Wrap-up and Reflections: Presentation of group projects and final reflections on the journey through citizenship, community, and leadership.

    Grade Structure for Honors 390: Citizenship, Community, and Leadership

    The final grade for this course will be based on the following components and weightings:

      Class Participation: Active involvement in class discussions and activities.
      Weekly Reflections: 15%: Submission of reflections based on readings in advance of our class discussions.
      Mid-term Reflective Essay: 20% A reflective essay on a chosen aspect of citizenship, community, or leadership, demonstrating deep engagement with course materials.
      You Choose Project: 25% Participation in a project from a menu that integrates learning about citizenship, community, and leadership.
      Final Reflective Essay: 20%: A comprehensive essay that integrates course themes with personal insights and experiences.
      List of Options for Engagement Projects

    Menu for You Choose Projects

    Citizenship: 2024 Election Event Organization: Organize or participate in debates, become a poll worker, or lead voter registration drives.
    Civic Education Workshops: Develop and deliver workshops on the importance of voting and understanding political processes.

    Volunteer in Muncie, IN: Engage in volunteer projects that address community needs, such as food banks, shelters, or environmental cleanups.
    Community Development Initiatives: Plan and implement a project that contributes to the development of local communities, like creating community gardens or improving public spaces.

    Interview a Civic Leader: Conduct and present an in-depth interview with a local civic leader, focusing on their leadership journey and contributions to the community.
    Organize a Dialogue Across Ideological Perspectives: Facilitate a discussion event that brings together individuals with differing views to foster understanding and dialogue.
    Integration of Themes:

    Community Engagement Volunteer Projects: Develop a project that combines elements of citizenship, community, and leadership, such as a campaign to address a local issue or need.
    Civic Leadership Portfolio: Compile a portfolio documenting your journey through the course, including your reflections, project work, and the impact of your engagement activities on your personal development as a leader and citizen.

    Course Requirements

    Active participation in class discussions and activities.
    Completion of weekly readings and reflections.
    Mid-term reflective essay on a chosen aspect of citizenship, community, or leadership.
    Participation in a group community involvement project.
    Final reflective essay integrating course themes with personal insights and experiences.
    Press Release:
    “Honors 390: Redefining Leadership and Citizenship for the Next Generation”

    MUNCIE, IN, March 14, 2024 – Ball State University proudly introduces an innovative and thought-provoking course, “Honors 390: Citizenship, Community, and Leadership,” this fall. Crafted and led by esteemed faculty member Dr. David J. Roof, this course promises to take students on an enlightening journey through the realms of community involvement, democratic citizenship, and ethical leadership.

    Structured over four thematic units, the course offers a comprehensive exploration of how individuals can meaningfully engage with and contribute to their communities and society at large. From delving into the historical foundations of community and citizenship to unpacking the complexities of ethical leadership, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate and influence today’s social and political landscapes.

    Dr. Roof emphasizes the course’s unique approach: “We’re moving beyond the classroom to inspire real-world action and reflection. Our goal is to empower students to become thoughtful leaders and active citizens who are committed to making a difference.”

    Students from all disciplines are invited to enroll in this course and join a dynamic learning community committed to understanding and shaping the future of civic engagement and leadership. For more details and enrollment information, contact Dr. David J. Roof at Ball State University.

    Dr. David J. Roof
    Phone: 217-721-6741