World Economic Forum's Global Fellows Train for Leadership at Columbia's School of the Arts

July 29, 2010Bookmark and Share
For a week in July, Columbia University School of the Arts and Columbia Global Centers hosted an intensive series of workshops and events designed to help the next generation of young leaders from around the globe use training in the arts and theater as a resource for effective leadership.
Faculty and fellows talk about the benefits and challenges of using the arts to develop leadership skills. (5:46)
For five days, fifty World Economic Forum (WEF) fellows from 40 countries took courses in rhetoric, improvisation, physical presence and voice technique. Instructors included Kristin Linklater and Andrea Haring, faculty members with the School of the Arts Theatre Arts Program. Other instructors included Brent Blair, founding director of Applied Theatre Arts programs at the University of Southern California, and Merry Conway, co-artistic director of the Conway and Pratt Projects theater group.
“There’s a world of theater in the term ‘global fellows,’” said Linklater. “If the global fellows wish to be supreme global communicators they need to know their voices in the way actors know their voices.”
In the evening, performances, presentations and tours further exposed the fellows to the ideas and techniques behind different artistic disciplines, including music, architecture and dance. IMPACT Repertory Theatre, Harlem’s nonprofit arts and youth leadership program, gave a music and dance performance for the fellows, who also met with IMPACT’s executive artistic director, Jamal Joseph, chair of the School of the Arts Film Program. Other evening activities included a private tour of the Museum of Modern Art exhibit, Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, led by Barry Bergdoll, the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, and professor of architectural history at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
The WEF Global Leadership Fellows Programme seeks to develop the next generation of world leaders. Participants said the training, which was highlighted in both The New York Times and The New Yorker, provided an unusual challenge. “We started out in a very uncomfortable space, which is the artist’s breathing, and his connection with the atmosphere of the world around him,” said fellow Arun Eapen. “Being in the artist’s shoes, so to speak, has been the fundamental difference in this experience, which I think has made it incredibly unique.”
The depth of the programming and diversity of its participants, meanwhile, highlighted the role of the Arts in an increasingly interdisciplinary academic environment at Columbia, as well as the University's active engagement both on its own New York campus and abroad with a range of global institutions and organizations.
“The strong academic partnership with Columbia, and this year especially with the School of the Arts, adds a key dimension to what is already a unique program,” said Gilbert Probst, managing director and dean of the Global Leadership Fellows Programme. “Through this interdisciplinary approach to leadership development at the School of Arts, the fellows have been exposed to cutting-edge training that improves their skills and ability to shape the global, regional and industry agendas.”
Fellow Ramya Krishnaswamy cited the importance of imagination to effective leadership. “As global leaders," she said, "we need to have the ability to dream and break boundaries and imagine something big and new that we are able to create.”