Skip to Main Content

Lessons in Leadership at Summer Classics

Examine Leadership Lessons from the Past in the Context of the Present

Following its successful debut last summer, Lessons in Leadership from the Classics: East Meets West once again offers participants a rare opportunity to examine leadership lessons from the past in the context of the present. Together we delve into four texts from distinctive cultural and historic traditions and, by placing them in dialogue with one another, deepen our understanding of leadership as we connect their principles to the challenges confronting leaders in today’s world.

Each morning, we examine the points of view of Thucydides (“The Melian Dialogue” from The Peloponnesian Wars); Shakespeare (Henry V); Mencius, China’s “second sage”; and Han Feizi, chief author of China’s Legalist school of philosophy. These sessions are “great books” discussions structured in the traditional St. John’s seminar method: we read and discuss the works closely, with the intention of learning from—rather than about—our authors.

To that end, we consider the range of practical leadership tactics and techniques as applied by the four authors, surveying political and military strategies for building consensus, motivating allies, outfoxing enemies, bolstering tradition, and innovating in the face of changing circumstances.

During our afternoon sessions, we apply lessons in leadership to real-world situations through a variety of exercises and activities, using video clips, contemporary case studies, writing exercises, short debates, small-group discussions, and psychometric tools. Throughout, we consider the historical and critical contexts that shaped the life and thought of our four authors.

Join us for an intensive examination of Western and Eastern classical traditions, one that illuminates the enduring principles of leadership and the ways in which they relate to our own moment in time.

Meets Monday–Friday at 10 a.m.–noon and 2–4 p.m. 

Week 2 | July 14–19

Lessons in Leadership from the Classics: East Meets West

Charles Bergman and David Townsend

Come participate in a rare opportunity to examine leadership lessons from the past in the context of the present. This seminar examines the points of view of Thucydides (“The Melian Dialogue” from The Peloponnesian Wars); Shakespeare (Henry V); Mencius, China’s “second sage”; and Han Feizi, chief author of China’s Legalist school of philosophy. We consider the range of practical leadership tactics and techniques as applied by the four authors, surveying political and military strategies for building consensus, motivating allies, outfoxing enemies, bolstering tradition, and innovating in the face of changing circumstances. This intensive examination of Western and Eastern classical traditions illuminates the enduring principles of leadership and the ways in which they relate to our own moment in time.

See the full Week 2 Seminar Schedule