In this section, Dr. Leigh Hafrey shares both how the course has remained the same since he began teaching it and how the structure of 15.269 Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority has changed over the years.
I taught my first course relating story to organizational issues when I was in graduate school. I have always been interested in the intersection of art and social life, in the belief that the former shapes the latter as much as the reverse. Although my approach has changed somewhat over the years, the basics remain the same: the idea that a well-told story captures the complexity of a situation in terms that anyone can understand and makes it possible to take action. At the same time, a well-told story constantly challenges the audience to come back to it and ask again, “What does this mean, and how should I apply its specifics?" A good story never lies flat; it always insists on being re-read and demands a constant reimagining of its relevance.
The main change lies in how I have structured 15.269 Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority. I have always divided the 22 to 24 sessions into modules, but I realized five or six years ago that the course works with a dialectic: In some stories the institution trumps the individual, and in others the individual triumphs in the face of organizational imperatives. Leadership makes up a part of all of these stories, but in the ones I like best, a combination of institutional and individual energies come together to initiate real and positive social change, what the course labels "social enterprise." That dynamic now supplies the core framework for the course.