International visitors join Melbourne interdisciplinary leadership doctoral program

November 12 / 99

Visitors from Vanderbilt University. Left to right: PhD student Nicole Spigner, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education Professor Vicki Greene and PhD student Evan Haglund.
Visitors from Vanderbilt University. Left to right: PhD student Nicole Spigner, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education Professor Vicki Greene and PhD student Evan Haglund.

By Rebecca Hobden

Lively discussion and debate on topics including leadership and ethics was the focus of the Graduate Certificate of Advanced Learning and Leadership's (GCALL) first subject 'Ethical Leadership' for 40 high achieving PhD candidates.

Held at Melbourne Business School's Mt Eliza campus last month, the GCALL program encourages interdisciplinary collaboration between Melbourne's PhD candidates around ethical leadership, enhancing the development of problem-solving, communication and teamwork skills.
Throughout the week, six of Australia's foremost leaders including Philanthropist Simon McKeon AO, Executive Chairman of Macquarie Group's Melbourne office, Professor Marcia Langton, Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, Centre for Health & Society, and The Hon. Neil Brown QC presented reflections on ethical leadership. In addition to the guest speakers, all 40 candidates led a 90-minute seminar on key leadership themes including wisdom, failure, power and change.

For the second year running, Melbourne participants were joined by two visiting PhD researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee: Evan Haglund, who is completing a PhD in Political Science, and Nicole Spigner, a PhD student in English Literature.

This year, Professor Vicki Greene, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education at Vanderbilt also attended the week-long intensive.

Just as in 2011, the US guests' contributions and points-of-view, complimented and challenged the thoughts and opinions of the Melbourne candidates.

Professor Greene said participating in the GCALL was a wonderful experience.  
"I loved the international perspective. There's such a broad spectrum of cultures and life experiences from the Melbourne students, resulting in a lot of texture in the discussions," she said.

 Vanderbilt participant Evan Haglund said he had enjoyed the interdisciplinarity of the program.

"My discipline, political science, borrows a lot from other disciplines, for example psychology and economics," he said.

 "One of the things we learn is that you can't strictly define boundaries between disciplines. When you try, you miss important things.  
"Having the opportunity to interact with other disciplines allows you to get deeper into your subject than before. Our understanding of politics without psychology, neuroscience or economics would be shallower. This interdisciplinary experience is allowing me to get better in my field."

In 2013, elements of the GCALL will be introduced at Vanderbilt University. Professor Greene will establish a student leadership group within the graduate research cohort to encourage candidates to talk and think about leadership as early as possible in planning their careers.  

"I'd like to bring together a group of graduate students with the Dean and Chancellor to talk to them about leadership. More students need experiences around leadership and it's good to get them exposed to this earlier rather than later", Professor Greene said.

The GCALL's success continues to highlight the importance of these international partnerships, which further enhance the rewarding and invaluable research training experiences for PhD candidates.  

For more information about the GCALL:

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