Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority

Infographic listing reasons why we tell stories: to teach, to learn, to share information, to connect, to make things stick.

In the context of leadership, stories help us move forward together. (Courtesy of bgblogging on Flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2015



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course explores how we use story to articulate ethical norms. The syllabus consists of short fiction, novels, plays, feature films and some non-fiction. Major topics include leadership and authority, professionalism, the nature of ethical standards, social enterprise, and questions of gender, cultural and individual identity, and work / life balance. Materials vary from year to year, but past readings have included work by Robert Bolt, Michael Frayn, Timothy Mo, Wole Soyinka, H. D. Thoreau, and others; films have included Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hotel Rwanda, The Descendants, Motorcycle Diaries, Three Kings, and others. Draws on various professions and national cultures, and is run as a series of moderated discussions, with students centrally engaged in the teaching process.

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Related Content

Leigh Hafrey. 15.269 Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority. Fall 2015. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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