sealPurdue News

March 4, 2003

Students use unconventional approach to learn leadership skills

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Imagine earning class credit by watching "Survivor" and attending a jazz concert.

That's just what Purdue University students in the Student Leadership Development Class (EDPS 300A) do each semester. The class, taught by Associate Dean of Students Pablo Malavenda, takes an unconventional approach to examining leadership theories and developing leadership skills.

Students watch the television program "Survivor" each week to evaluate the group dynamics of the contestants and how leadership emerges with each challenge. Afterward, students compare the contestants' leadership styles with their own beliefs of what a successful, ethical leader should be.

In addition to evaluating "Survivor," students also study prominent leaders in history, interview a community leader, participate in a leadership project in the community and examine leadership in their own lives.

The class also features a field trip to a jazz concert at the end of the semester. Inspired by the book "Leadership Jazz" by Max De Pree, Malavenda asks students to reflect on the leadership similarities between the jazz performance and the challenges that students face in school and their subsequent careers.

Malavenda says that while the class features many fun activities, it has a serious purpose.

The goal is that by the end of the semester, the students will have examined leadership and be inspired to become active leaders in the Purdue community and later in life," he says.

To enroll in the class, contact Malavenda at (765) 494-1231 or A syllabus is available at

CONTACT: Malavenda, (765) 494-1231,; Stephon Watson, student, (765) 495-2093,; Brian Hickman, student, (765) 746-2544,; Barbara Tobias, student, (765) 743-9575,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The media are welcome to attend a class and obtain video footage. Contact Pablo Malavenda at (765) 494-1231 to make arrangements.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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