Earlier this week, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts announced the launch of the Leadership and Ethical Engagement Project (LEEP). The project is designed to provide a model for “integrating a deliberate focus on ethics within the academics and culture of an educational institution, with a distinctive focus on contributing to the common good.”
Through courses, paid internships, research support and more, LEEP will support students from all academic disciplines who want to strengthen their engagement around core ethical beliefs, practice critical thinking, and develop practical leadership skills. The project will enable students to explore new models of community that focus on the common good. It will also include new, ethics-based interdisciplinary academic offerings and practice-based leadership initiatives.
The project is being established by a $2,085,000 grant over five years from SHIFT, a private family foundation dedicated to advancing the culture of common good. SHIFT also incubated and continues to fund Shareable.
LEEP will include workshops, speakers, symposia, collaborations with innovative organizations, and conversations within the school community about ways students think about, and contribute to, the common good.
Of the project, Hampshire College president Jonathan Lash expressed the following:
“At Hampshire College, work in the community and direct engagement in national issues are key components of the learning experience. Hampshire students do not just acquire knowledge, but also use it for the common good. As they learn through putting their ideas into action, they contribute to justice and positive change. The new Leadership and Ethical Engagement Project will support the development of the skills, confidence, and practical experience to become effective change-makers."
The formal launch for LEEP is February 12 with a public presentation titled Ethics and the Common Good: What Kind of World Do You Want to Live In? The presentation will feature Commons activist David Bollier and choreographer, performer, and educator Liz Lerman. It is free and open to the public.
LEEP spans academic disciplines and will offer support to faculty and students in many different areas and they “examine theories and new models for social and economic institutions, personal actions, and communities that aim to foster the common good.”
The college has opened personnel searches for an applied ethics professor and a LEEP program director. New course offerings will be available as early as fall 2015.