Oxford Conclaves

Ethical leadership on the World Stage

Since her retirement from Kennesaw State University, Dr. Siegel has implemented many global initiatives that have taken her worldwide to spread the message of leadership, ethics, and character. The signature program of Dr. Betty Siegel is The Oxford Conclave on Global Ethics, an initiative in higher education launched in 2005.

Dr. Siegel w/ Desmond Tutu The Conclave serves as a catalyst for a movement to renew higher education's commitment to the development of ethical leadership and to explore its role as a change agent for social responsibility.  As a visiting scholar, Dr. Siegel spent three months at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in 2007 developing new programs for leadership development and expansion. Distinguished speaker Frances Hesselbein, Chairman of the Board of Leader to Leader Institute and Founding President and CEO of The Peter Drucker Foundation, comments on the Oxford Conclaves she attended in 2005 and 2006:

The depth and integrity of the examination and dialogue--not to mention the level of courage required to tackle the toughest issues before the university and the society--were beyond our highest expectations. The vision of the planners, led by Dr. Betty Siegel, resulted in the mission that we all worked to further, and inspired us once again, moving the Conclave from "'good to great."

The report from the Conclave will...demonstrate the wisdom of meeting in a medieval college, founded over 700 years ago, where a sense of history permeated our every deliberation, underscoring the indispensable place of the university in society--medieval or in our own times.

I remembered William Butler Yeats: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." The Oxford Conclave lights a fire that leads the way.

-- Frances Hesselbein

One of these initiatives, the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership: Global Perspectives in a Southern African Context was held in April of 2008. The conference of university presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors from throughout southern Africa discussed Higher Education and Ethical Leadership. Speakers at the Seboka included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former South Africa Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson.

The event focused on the practical contributions universities can make towards developing ethical and socially responsible leaders for Africa. The Seboka (a Sesotho word meaning a group of people meeting for a common cause) is a joint effort with The Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility from Georgia State University.   

This is the Call for Change and Action that came out of the Stellenbosch Seboka:
Stellenbosch Seboka On Higher Education and Ethical Leadership
Global Perspectives in a Southern African Context
April 23-25, 2008

Stellenbosch Seboka

A Call for Change and Action

We, the participants in the Stellenbosch Seboka on Higher Education and Ethical Leadership, recognize that we face a moral crisis in global society.  As the historical mission of higher education includes the development of ethical leaders for the common good, we therefore advance the following beliefs:

  • Higher Education is uniquely positioned and has a responsibility to address the need for ethical leadership in our time and for the future.
  • Higher Education is responsible for developing ethical and moral leaders for all sectors of society.
  • Higher Education is a public good and an important empowerment agent for the individual and society.

To enact these beliefs, we should initiate change and innovate as follows:

  • Higher Education should fearlessly acknowledge and confront moral issues in society by articulating and publicly discussing them, and by deliberately addressing them as part of its teaching, research, community engagement, and administrative agenda.
  • Higher Education should prepare graduates for lives of meaning and purpose, and equip them as holistic agents of change.
  • Higher Education should embrace diverse people and perspectives to ensure a rich learning environment.
  • Higher Education should remove every possible barrier to access and success.
  • Higher Education should develop authentic moral and ethical leaders within institutional cultures of collaboration.
  • Higher Education should engage in substantive collaboration with other parts of society, such as government, communities, NGO's and the corporate sector, to promote a moral and ethical society for the common good.
  • Higher Education should rethink and re-imagine traditional assumptions and approaches in all of its activities and disciplines.
  • Higher Education should develop moral ethical leaders who are prepared to accept and act on responsibilities and challenges in organizations.
  • Higher Education should integrate moral and ethical principles and practices across the curriculum and amongst all role-players, thus visibly permeating the entire institution.

We will strive to develop leaders who are recognized by others for their:

  • Impeccable integrity in public and private life: leadership by example.
  • Courage to question, reflect, stand alone, and commit to action according to sound values.
  • Responsibility, accountability and transparency.
  • Respect, empathy and compassion within diverse communities.
  • Ability to solve problems involving difficult choices and trade-offs.
  • Commitment to life-long learning.
  • Belief in embracing and celebrating diversity and the potential for change, and a commitment to the common good.
  • Inspiring, motivating, optimistic and authentic leadership.
  • Willingness to suffer for the sake of others.
  • Willingness to step aside when ethical considerations require it.
  • Humility, altruism and selflessness.
  • Ability to communicate persuasively without coercion.
  • Critical self-understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses.
  • Willingness to accept critique and to engage in debate.

The Future of the Oxford Conclave

There are plans being made for the next Oxford Conclave to take place in Atlanta at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in 2009.  Beyond that maybe Ireland or India has been mentioned as a possible site to continue this great new tradition in Global Ethical Leadership.

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