Leadership Studies Professor to Share Expertise in Ireland During Fulbright Visit
Paul Kosempel gets quizzical looks when he tells people that he teaches leadership at the University of Denver.
“There’s this mythical quality to leadership that perhaps it can’t be taught,” says Kosempel, teaching professor and director of leadership studies at DU. But Kosempel has dedicated his career to doing exactly that.
“People have a better sense of how to teach leadership with graduate students or people who have been in the working world,” he says. “But the question of how we teach leadership to students without as much ‘real-world’ experience seems more ambiguous and is one that I’ve enjoyed pursuing.”
Kosempel will take his leadership studies expertise to the Technological University of Dublin in Ireland as a Fulbright Scholar from September through December. There he will work with members of TU Dublin’s School of Management, People and Organizations in the Faculty of Business.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.
Kosempel’s interest in Ireland stems from his ancestry and his love of the country and its culture. He has been involved with a local Gaelic sports club called the Denver Gaels a fast-paced, stick-and-ball Irish field sport called hurling that dates back over 3,000 years.
Kosempel has taken two of his DU classes to Ireland—one to examine leadership in Irish Independence, and the other to explore the themes of conflict, peace and leadership in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a Fulbright Scholar at TU Dublin, Kosempel will share how DU teaches leadership, especially to undergraduate students who often have little work experience.
“The typical dynamic is people get trained in a certain area. They work in that area, and they do well. Then they get put into a leadership position, which is completely different from what got them there, and they’re expected to thrive. That doesn’t necessarily happen without any training. Our leadership program gives them the foundation for being able to successfully make those transitions,” he says.
Kosempel’s Fulbright fellowship will consist of teaching, research and consultation. His teaching assignments at both the graduate and undergraduate levels will involve courses in management and organizational behavior.
His expertise in “intentional emergence,” a relatively new teaching method, will figure into all three aspects of his Fulbright term. He describes intentional emergence as a way to turn the classroom into a leadership laboratory, capitalizing on how students act as leaders in the classroom.
“If there are power dynamics happening in the classroom, [we call] those out. Being aware of what’s happening in the here and now gives students the ability to reflect upon and see themselves as leaders, even if it’s in the smallest of ways,” Kosempel says.
If, for example, one student in a team project is doing most of the work, the faculty member would ask the students why that is happening. “It’s referred to as ‘turning up the heat’ in the classroom,” Kosempel says.
He believes that, rather than being thought of as a “safe space,” a classroom should be considered a “brave space,” where students can challenge themselves and take risks. In his classroom, students “have to engage and look at their own leadership behaviors, or lack thereof in some cases.”
In his research, Kosempel will focus on three questions related to intentional emergence. First, how does the introduction of intentional emergence impact student engagement in an undergraduate management course or module? Second, how do students experience intentional emergence in an undergraduate leadership course? And third, how does his experience applying intentional emergence in American and Irish classrooms differ?
While most Fulbright awards involve teaching or research, or a combination of both, Kosempel’s duties will also include consulting the School of Management, People and Organizations on their programs and the teaching methods and models they use.
After returning to the U.S., he plans to develop at least one Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) course between the University of Denver and either TU Dublin or other institutions in Ireland. This entails combining a course or a section of a course with one in another country to give students from both countries exposure to one another.
“Our international courses are not accessible to everyone. COIL courses are a great way to increase access,” he says.
The Fulbright Scholar application cycle is currently open for 2024-25 academic year. The application deadline is September 15, 2023. Interested applicants can contact the DU Fulbright Scholar campus liaison, Leasa Weimer, at email@example.com, with specific questions or to schedule a consultation.