The Underground Railroad Leadership Development Experience

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What we expect to achieve

We want to identify effective ways to develop leaders who strive to build community. In these kinds of communities, people are valued for who they are and what they can do.

We also want to describe action steps that we will carry out to provide opportunities for students to work in teams to address a community issue.

The issue

Building community often involves people with diverse needs who have wide-ranging skills and capabilities. This mix is difficult to handle, especially since many leaders-in-training are not provided real experiences to learn how to help people make joint decisions on the best course of action to take.


We will look carefully at the leadership actions of some of the people who contributed to the success of the Underground Railroad. We will attempt to learn how they were able to create and operate a huge network of people spread out over large distances without being run by any single organization or person. 

The many people who were involved only knew of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. From 1780 to 1862, it effectively moved more than 100,000 slaves northward.

Attached to this description are short profiles of Harriet Tubman, Levin Coffin, Lucretia Mott, and William Still. Each profile highlights the kind of leadership provided under challenging circumstances.

An example of how to involve a community organization in a service-learning project is also provided.

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