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Moravian Students Learn about Leadership from Twelve Angry Men

Bethlehem, Pa., January 27, 2005—Fifty-three students from Moravian College’s Leadership Center recently traveled to New York City to the Roundabout Theater production of Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose. This classic 1954 drama is about a jury in a murder trial with one member who votes “not guilty” against the wishes of all the others, and how he awakens their collective conscience.

When the students returned to campus, they discussed the issues of the play, especially the idea of one dissenter against the majority. They were led by Julia Gasdaska ’07, Bethlehem, Pa.; Michael McCartney ’05, Harveys Lake, Pa.; Adam Spaugh ’05, Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Katie Suib ’05, Milanville, Pa.

“The trip proved to be an inspiring experience that brought students together and created an opportunity for conversation about the value of leadership in the context of our lives,” said Julia Gasdaska. “Seeing the story play out gave me confidence in believing that good leaders are creative, understanding, and able to put themselves in other people's shoes.”

“I used the story for a discussion on leadership by asking fellow students how they encounter leadership skills in their everyday lives,” Gasdaska continued. “Students responded by saying that they practice leadership skills at work, in clubs and organizations, and in classrooms. Leadership helps people to focus their energy in a good direction; I believe the trip to New York had the same effect on my fellow students.”

“The film version of Twelve Angry Men is widely used as a case study in leadership development programs,” said April Vari, dean of student development, “The plot explores issues of group decision making, organizational culture, conflict, power and influence, and formal versus informal leadership.”

“Given our proximity to New York, it seemed like a natural fit for the Leadership Center to sponsor a trip to see the new Broadway production of the play,” Vari said. “The trip was open to all students. For several of the students participating in the event, it was their first professional theater experience. The opportunity to discuss leadership and to create exposure to professional theater was irresistible.”

Vari and Michelle Schmidt, assistant professor of psychology, serve as co-directors of the Leadership Center at Moravian, which serves as the focus of activity for the Moravian Leadership Initiative. Located in the Haupert Union Building, the Center houses a resource library, meeting/conference room, office space for Student Government, the Comenian newspaper, and IMPACT program board. The center also provides a faculty resource room in support of teaching innovations, and offices for the co-directors.