Defining moments as potential catalysts for development : the case of the UKZN leadership course.
This qualitative case study explores how moments perceived as ‘ defining’ or being a climatic turning point may influence students’ preconceived ideas and viewpoints. Institutions worldwide are becoming cognisant of the importance of preparing students for global leadership roles. In meeting this objective the Student Leadership Development Office introduced students on its leadership course to the topics of leadership and citizenship. The Leadership Course’s structure used an ethical lens to elaborate on elements of citizenship related to knowledge, skills, efficacy, and commitment. The course aimed to imbue students with a sense of stewardship, and commitment to civic involvement. The provision of real-world learning experiences included the use of a culturally responsive form of teaching, by the introduction of the African spiritual concepts of ubuntu and umhlangano. Lessons were further amplified by prior research, feedback, and the use of reflective journals by course participants. Using Mezirow’s (1991) theoretical framework of transformative learning, this study considers how the course facilitates the possibility of catalytic experiences for course participants. This study is particularly interested in determining whether real change is possible via defining moments which may potentially trigger transformative learning. Data gathered from reflective journals and email questionnaires has been coded and analysed for possible themes. Triangulation between sources allowed for greater validity for the findings of the data collected. The study shows how, via transforming experiences, students became aware of preconceived biases and judgements in their internal landscapes. These defining moments contribute to catalysts for development. Case study results suggest that students could develop a broader understanding of the responsibilities of leadership and citizenship by obtaining an overall understanding and appreciation for diversity and being motivated to implement activities that could potentially have a positive bearing on community life.