Six Dickinson College students flew from Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Honolulu this winter to join six Chaminade University students for a 5-day intensive leadership seminar. The seminar, taught by Dickinson professor, Jeff McCausland, Ph.D., used the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as a historical case study to examine enduring concepts of leadership and organizational theory.

2017 Pearl Harbor SeminarMcCausland with Alaka’ina Foundation vice president of Pacific Operations, Roy J. Panzarella, Ph.D. spearheaded the opportunity for the 12 students. Thanks to sponsor, Alaka’ina Foundation, and Chaminade University, the Chaminade students participated for free.  The Foundation also provided a dinner for the group on one of the evenings. For the Foundation, supporting the Pearl Harbor Leadership Seminar matched its goal of developing a new generation of leaders.

The twelve students participated in an overview workshop on the first day and continued formal discussions and exercises from January 9-13. They reflected daily on the meaning of the places visited with efforts focused on connecting leadership concepts and principles discussed.

The core question asked daily was the “so what?” question as it pertained to leadership concepts and individual or organizational development.  Students pondered over the power of assumptions, leading in a crisis, the value of diversity, organizational culture and change, resilience and effective communications.

2017 Pearl Harbor SeminarThe group hiked up to Diamond Head observation point and to Opana Point at Turtle Bay. They visited the Tropic Lightening Museum, Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Airfield, and Hickam Harbor. They solemnly toured Pearl Harbor WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, its museum, and the Arizona Memorial. They took in the USS Bowfin Museum and then a nuclear submarine at the U.S. Submarine Command Pacific – a juxtaposition of past and present technology. They also made it to Punchbowl National Cemetery, the Pacific Aviation Museum, Ford Island, and the USS Missouri. In addition, the group spent an evening at Polynesian Cultural Center, as a valuable opportunity to understand diversity and culture. Learning to appreciate cultural diversities and geographic differences (Atlantic Coast meets Pacific Islands), the students strengthened their team’s capacities to work together on various exercises.

2017 Pearl Harbor SeminarGabriel Torno, a graduate student with Chaminade’s Hogan Entrepreneurs program, found the week to be of exceptional value. He wrote that the experience gave him unique insight of leadership concepts as he took in the historic events of Pearl Harbor. “The attack on Pearl Harbor is an excellent case study for the program. I learned more about the concepts of challenging assumptions and organizational culture,” Torno reflected.  “Some high points for me was the overall visitation of Opana Point at Turtle Bay as a vehicle that ignited World War II and our last visit to the USS Missouri that concluded the war.”  Torno also found the group’s visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center to be meaningful in exploring the concept of diversity.

On Friday, Pacific Forum CSIS prepared for the students a special half-day event, which focused on leadership for the future.  Jim Kelly, the former assistant secretary of State, and Pacific Forum officials, spoke to the students on the future of United States leadership in the Pacific. The Pacific Forum CSIS provides timely, informative, and innovative analysis of political, security, and strategic developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Steeped in history and informed of future projections, the students made connections with the past, present, and future. They considered the mindsets of the major players of a historic event and now had a leadership framework for their future use.