Emerge, Auburn's largest leadership program, prioritizes preparing students for leadership years down the line. Its fundamental mission is remaining the same, but the structure of the organization will be much different in the upcoming year.
“I think it’s important to talk about how our goal is to focus on leadership as a continuous process, and that it’s not just about being in a position of leadership, but our definition of leadership is that it’s an ongoing process — a relational and ethical process of people coming together to accomplish a common goal,” said Dawn Morgan, leadership programs coordinator.
Emerge was launched in 2017 as Freshmen Leadership Program dissolved, and it has continued to evolve over the years with students' needs.
“Our predecessor Freshman Leadership Program was geared toward freshmen, but we know that leadership is a journey, so we know that students will come into their awareness of leadership development at different times,” Morgan said.
There are three phases to the Emerge curriculum, which is new for the 2019–2020 school year — Explore/Explore Spring, Spark and Transform.
Explore/Explore Spring is the first of the three phases. Explore is a year-long program, while Explore Spring is an accelerated, semester-long program.
“In that first phase we have two programs — the year-long program that I think when people hear about Emerge often think, ‘Oh, that’s that year-long thing that you can join,’ and it consists of about 1,000 students in the program each year,“ Morgan said. “They’re split into groups of about 30 and have weekly meetings led by two upperclassmen, and they’re taught everything a student might need to know when they are exploring their identity as a leader, whether they are talking about vision or values or communication, diversity and inclusion or identity.”
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Emerge decided to add shortened version because some students may not apply to Emerge at the beginning of their freshman year. There are many students who co-op, transfer or simply hear about Emerge later on, and the organization wants everyone to have an opportunity to participate, Morgan said.
“A junior student could also do the same, so they could do Explore Spring, then just two more semesters in Spark and Transform," she said. "The idea really was to make this as flexible and as accessible as a program could be for all students at Auburn to engage in.”
Spark and Transform are the second and third phases of the Emerge curriculum. They are both a semester long and were designed with specific purposes in mind.
“Spark is all about servant leadership — how to use your power and your privilege and how to use your leadership skills to affect positive change in your community,” Morgan said. “Our third phase is called Transform Leaders; that’s where students will be more prepared for that positional leadership both on campus and then hopefully in their career field.”
In addition to the three phases, the leaders in Emerge have decided to offer more workshops and initiatives throughout the year in an attempt to reach the students who are unable to go through the program.
During the upcoming school year, Emerge wants to see participation increase, but it's also aiming to spread its message to as much of the campus as possible.
“Our goal is to provide leadership development opportunities to the campus, so we would like to see students engaging in all our initiatives and programs,” she said. “I think this ties into another goal I have for the program — we adopt the idea that leadership is not just positional. While you can be a leader across campus, you don’t have to be the leader.”
Morgan said that Emerge is always looking for ways to improve, especially after the changes for this school year are enacted.
“We want to be very intentional on how we prepare students to do good work in their community, and they’re not just trying to check a box,” Morgan said. “It’s important to know that we are not shying away from growing and expanding.”
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