The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, features a unique and prestigious curriculum for students who are pursuing a degree in leadership. The Hauenstein Center is a nexus for scholarship on contemporary and future leadership skills, taught with an interdisciplinary approach. Hauenstein Center links students with professionals in mentorships that are specific to each students’ industry. One of the most unique features of the Hauenstein’s approach is through the Common Ground Initiative. This is an initiative that is designed to approach the global society that we live, recognizing that diversity is productive. The Hauenstein Center finds a common ground amongst many diverse perspective, encouraging the collaboration of progressives and conservatives. Given that our contemporary culture is not a dichotomy of either side, but rather a blending of many multicultural views, the curriculum is best suited for today’s real world applications. In the approach to melding two disparate camps, the Hauenstein Center does not attempt to convert either side, but to prepare both sides for effective leadership in the global economy. The Hauenstein Center is founded on the exemplary leadership of Ralph W. Hauenstein. In 2010, the Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship Award was further developed in order to recognize leaders who have profoundly affected the world in the field of leadership. The list of recipients is laudable: “James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft, and Gerald R. Ford (posthumously)” (About the Hauenstein Center, 2016).

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There are “four cornerstones” on which the Hauenstein Center formulates its curriculum: The Cook Leadership Academy, The Common Ground Initiative, the interactive website, and the book collections. One of the prestigious features of the book collections is that the collection has been recognized by the U.S. Congress for housing more books in one room, written by U.S. Presidents, than at any other institution in the world. One way that the Hauenstein Center makes its information available to its students is through the effective use of media, such as Podcasts and YouTube. The Podcasts that are available on the website are good for reviewing and transcribing what ideas have been discussed by influential thinkers.

The Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy is an extremely elite program to which only 60 students were admitted in 2016. These 60 students represented over 52 disciplines (About the Hauenstein Center, 2016). This is a fellowship program that lasts for a year. There are Hallmark Events that Cook fellows are invited to attend, and speakers such as Martha Nussbaum and Barbara Kellerman are featured presenters. In order to become a Cook fellow, the scholars are rigorously tested, so the fellowship is highly competitive. Additionally, the Cook Leadership Academy offers an elite program known as the Wheelhouse Talks. These talks feature mentors who are “eager to share their leadership philosophy” (About the Hauenstein Center, 2016). In 2016, Gleaves Whitney was a featured presenter. His presentation was entitled, “Election 2016 and Beyond: What is to Be Done?”, and this is a presentation that reflected the current crisis that faced progressives and conservatives in the 2016 election. The presentation is evidence of the salient relationship of the Wheelhouse Talks with contemporary culture.

The Hauenstein Center is the most comprehensive leadership program in any university: “Our initiative is unique in higher education today. No other public university in the U.S. is offering a balanced, comprehensive exploration (and redefinition) of what it means to be conservative and what it means to be progressive in the 21st century” (About the Hauenstein Center, 2016). Therefore, because the Hauenstein Center is the only university to approach the dichotomy between progressive and conservative leadership theories, the Hauenstein Center is the best university for an individual to pursue a global education in leadership.

  • About the Hauenstein Center. (2016). The Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University. Retrieved from