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Our Theoretical Framework

Courses and workshops provided through The Leadership Studies Center are founded on key theories of leadership education and leadership development. Below are the major theories used throughout the curriculum to develop and assess students’ learning.

Leadership Identity Development Model

The Minor in Leadership Studies is grounded in the research literature on college student leadership development. The program’s curriculum is structured around the Leadership Identity Development Model first published by Komives, Longerbeam, Owen, Mainella and Osteen in 2006. The course curriculum aligns with the model’s six stages.



Social Change Model

Identifying seven components that contribute to leading effective social change, Astin and Astin’s 1996 booklet outlined the model. It continues to serve as a foundation for much of the current research in college student leadership development, particularly by the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership. The three elements are comprised of seven values, as outlined in the below diagram. All the courses explicitly weave in the seven values.

Social Change Model 



Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders

Detailed in the 2012 book by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, these five practices were identified from hundreds of interviews with leaders and constituents as behaviors that distinguish the most effective leaders. This well-cited empirical research is used as a key theory in the introductory course, LR 170: Principles of Leadership.




Astin, H. S., & Astin, A. W. (1996). A Social Change Model of Leadership Development: Guidebook: Version III. Higher Education Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles

Komives, S. R., Longerbeam, S. D., Owen, J. E., Mainella, F. C., & Osteen, L. (2006). A leadership identity development model: Applications from a grounded theory. Journal of College Student Development, 47 (4), 401-418.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The Leadership Challenge (Vol. 5). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.