Elon University School of Law's Leadership Fellows hosted a second annual Leadership Academy on February 16, welcoming Elon University's Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows to collaborate in the examination of global problems and local solutions.
The Leadership Academy allows Elon Law Leadership Fellows to share insights about law and justice with exceptional undergraduate students at Elon University, while also offering Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows the opportunity to present insights on international issues to law students. Daniel Watts L’15 said the conference provided an opportunity for law school Fellows not just to teach, but to learn from a different perspective.
“The undergraduate Fellows help law students to take a step back and look at leadership in a more holistic sense,” Watts said. “They bring excellent perspectives, experiences and areas of expertise that complement the legal realm nicely. This dynamic really gives a symbiotic spin on the conference, helping law students to ‘disconnect’ from law school for an instant, only to come away with a greater appreciation of the law as the conduit for change in any realm. In turn, the undergraduates are able to see global citizenship in practice, giving the term teeth, instead of broadcasting it as merely an academic mantra.”
Elon Law Professor Faith Rivers James, the director of leadership programs at the law school, delivered opening remarks at the forum. Watts introduced some of the broad themes of the day’s discussions, including the role of individuals in achieving local and global change and the concept of happiness as a measurement of corporate and government performance. Shoshanna Silverberg L’15 led a discussion about the challenges and impacts of global food production and Emily Seawell L’15 led a discussion on sweatshops and outsourcing in foreign countries.
During the discussion about the international clothing industry, students were shown a video in which many people protested sweatshops in foreign countries, stating that the conditions and wages in these factories were substandard. Some participants noted that these arguments represent only one side of the issue, since large clothing factories often offer more jobs and higher wages than other sectors in developing countries. This discussion provided the opportunity for fellows to ask how local advocacy can impact communities across the globe, whether some potential solutions might take jobs and wages away from people and how solutions could be formulated collaboratively to reach desired results.
Lewis Pitts, Esq., an attorney practicing in Greensboro, delivered a lunch hour presentation on leadership and advocacy at the Leadership Academy.
“Mr. Pitts shared his passion for the law and the need to be steadfast advocates for our clients,” said Brenna Ragghianti L’14. “He highlighted that leadership means digging deeper to find the truth about what goes on in our surroundings, and that change can often occur in our backyards that will affect people around the world. His message to ‘think global and act local’ resonated with the theme of the Leadership Academy.”
Law students said they were impressed and inspired by the insight and energy exhibited by Elon’s Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows.
“The students I interacted with were motivated and energized to make a real and positive impact in their communities,” said Pamela Boeka L’13. “I had fun listening to their opinions on various issues, and it was rewarding to help them formulate their action plans to address some of their concerns.”
“Working with the Elon undergraduate students was rewarding and enlightening,” said Katie Lester L’15. “Elon Law is just one part of an amazing university with incredible students at all levels—I just hope they got as much out of the day as I learned from them. It is important for the law school to connect with main campus and give back to the larger university community. I am looking forward to helping create more opportunities for the law school to partner with undergraduate students in the future.”
Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow Greg Zitelli ’14 said he found the Leadership Academy enriching because of the level of engagement of both groups of fellows.
“We contributed to the conversation and helped to direct where it went,” Zitelli said. “It was enjoyable because of the full participation of both groups of Leadership Fellows.”
Looking ahead to a potential third Leadership Academy, Silverberg said she was excited about the possibilities for another opportunity to collaborate with and learn from Elon University Fellows.
“The adage that the best teachers are able to learn from their students rang true for me as a facilitator of the Leadership Academy, and I think it sets a phenomenal tone as far as what leadership in law and in business are truly about,” Silverberg said. “Leadership is about the capacity to see things in inter-connected ways; it’s about finding common ground so that as a group or as a community we can transcend that common ground and find new layers of diverse opinions, and ideally, use these experiences of discovery to identify new solutions and pathways for progress.”
Reporting for this article provided by Ben Kempton L’13