Fall Conference 2016

Looking at Leadership through the Humanities

Conference Schedule

Friday, November 4

5:00 p.m.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Lessons in Leadership

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Taylor Branch will explore how the citizens’ movement around Dr. King is a patriotic model for the future, not the past, promising once again to overcome gridlock and other intractable barriers along with race. Details.

Location: Ira Allen Chapel at UVM (26 University Place).

This keynote address is free and open to the general public; conference registrants will have reserved seating.

Saturday, November 5

7:00 to 9:00 a.m

Registration Desk open and continental breakfast

9:00 to 9:30 a.m.

Welcome: Peter Gilbert, VHC Executive Director; Ben Doyle, VHC board Chair; presentation of 2016 Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award.

9:30 to 10:45 a.m.

Ears to the Rail: Ulysses S. Grant and the Art of Listening

Professor Elizabeth Samet will focus on the career of Grant as an illustration of the importance of listening and patient observation to the leadership of enterprises large and small. The lecture will also address the potential of literature to help cultivate such leadership. Details.

10:45 to 11:00 a.m.

Break with coffee and tea

11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Morning Breakout Sessions

See list of breakout sessions.

12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

Buffet luncheon

1:15 to 2:30 p.m.

Thinking with Shakespeare; or, What Can We Learn from Him (and it is not what consultants say)?

Consultants and motivational speakers have often parlayed our desire for effective leadership with our faith in Shakespeare, developing courses in “Leadership Lessons Taught by Shakespeare.” By actually reading Shakespeare, however, rather than merely cherry-picking phrases, we discover that leadership turns out to be something rare, necessary, often painful, and almost inevitably compromised and compromising. Looking at what is Shakespeare’s most brilliant play about leadership, Henry V, David Scott Kastan will explore what Shakespeare does think about it: what it consists of, what it demands, and what price leaders (and often their followers) must pay both for their failures and successes. Details.

2:30 to 2:45 p.m.


2:45 to 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

See list of breakout sessions.

4:00 to 4:15 p.m.


4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition

In 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left England for the Antarctic with a crew of 27 on his ship Endurance. When it was crushed by sea ice, they became castaways in the harshest environment on Earth. A century later, author Caroline Alexander shares a thrilling saga of stoic courage that also serves as a master class in leadership. Details.

Join in on social media!

Throughout the conference, we’ll be posting regular updates via our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. If you use Instagram or Twitter, please help us spread the word about the conference by using the hashtag: #leadersVHC.