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Spirituality and Leadership Institute

Mission Statement

“The Spirituality and Leadership Institute (SLI) introduces high school and undergraduate students to spiritual disciplines as leadership practices and helps them develop as young citizens who promote public justice and seek the common good.”

Program Description

SLI, through various programs, introduces advanced high school students and undergraduates to the craft of leadership and goal of citizenship. In particular, students will develop key leadership traits and civic practices through exercises in spiritual formation, theological reflection, and vocational discernment.

Spiritual formation: Students will be introduced to several spiritual disciplines and the importance these disciplines have for developing character and good leadership traits. Some of these disciplines will include fixed-hour prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, service, study, and meditation.

Theological reflection: Students will develop a theological lens through which they can think about contemporary practices in culture and society. This will help them identify harmful practices and develop healthy ones that foster public justice.

Vocational discernment: In conversation with influential leaders and key readings on calling, students will begin to discern their calling in life beyond school and the unique contribution they can make to the common good.

The program consists of a five-day Spirituality and Society Seminar held in July on the beautiful Caldwell University campus.  Students will hear from leaders in various sectors of culture and society, including NBC, Disney, Johnson and Johnson, and The New Yorker Magazine. These speakers will guide students in seeing the connection between spirituality, leadership, and citizenship. As students interact with these leaders, they will be introduced to key spiritual disciplines in the Catholic-Dominican tradition that have played a role in these leader’s lives. Mornings will be spent in “class” with these guest speakers discussing topics such as food, fashion, technology, and sports. Afternoons will be open for semi-organized activities (e.g., pickup basketball games, kayaking, swimming, or concerts) and free time. Students will then reconvene in the evenings for bonding activities, such as a minor league baseball game, inflatable games, and a talent show. For the rest of the year (and beyond), students will be placed in online cohorts to continue conversations and maintain personal and professional friendships.

Program Director

Kyle Bennett

Kyle studied philosophy at Geneva College and did his Ph.D. at Fuller Seminary with Richard J. Mouw & James K. A. Smith (Calvin College) where he wrote his dissertation on fasting. His background is in existentialism and phenomenology with an eye to society and culture, but he’s particularly interested in citizenship and how spiritual disciplines bear on leadership and civic practices in our pluralistic North American democratic society. He’s taught theology, philosophy, and ethics at Azusa Pacific University, Providence Christian College, and The Kings College. He also had a stint as the Reviews Editor at Comment Magazine.

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