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Leadership Educators Symposium

Coming December 2025! Dates TBA

The Leadership Educators Symposium (an evolution of the former National Leadership Symposium) is a retreat-style experience that dives deeply into a timely leadership education topic via conversation and co-constructed learning. Participants explore the symposium topic alongside renowned scholars and approximately 30-40 other leadership educators. Program curriculum is cohort-based and highly experiential, centering dialogue principles and critical perspectives through topical lectures, workshops, and collaborative projects. NCLP has offered a symposium for leadership educators regularly since the 1990s.

Symposium is offered bi-annually in odd-numbered years, alternating with the Leadership Educators Institute (LEI) (December in even-numbered years). You have a leadership educator program to count on every December, which means more consistent connection with the leadership educator community and more straightforward professional development planning year-after-year.

True to the format of a symposium, we seek to engage the leadership education community in dialogue and exploration of a new topic each year. Curriculum is re-designed for each Symposium to center the featured topic while making space for participant input and program evolution and adjustment in real-time. Learning from the Symposium experience also helps guide conversations and initiatives hosted and supported by NCLP throughout the entire calendar year. Recent Symposium topics include:

  • Exploring Liberatory Learning in Leadership Education
  • Disruption by Design: Co-creating our approach to leadership education
  • Leadership Development through Disruption: Learning from 30 years of leadership education practices
  • Leadership & Interconnection: How leadership development can help students build critical hope and take action in place
  • Leadership and Democratic Engagement: The role we play and messages we send

Symposium is offered by NCLP in collaboration with our friends at LeaderShape, Inc., a non-profit organization well-known and respected in the leadership education community for their commitment to partnerships, programs, and initiatives to help create a just, caring, and thriving world.

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Recap of Symposium 2023: Exploring the Philosophy & Practice of Co-Construction

In 2023, leadership educators and our scholars-in-residence came together at the University of Tampa around the topic of Exploring the Philosophy and Practice of Co-Construction, a deep dive into one of many aspects of liberatory learning in leadership education.

Liberation is about expanding beyond the limits of socialized thought and behavior that perpetuate oppressive systems and inequity (Freire, 1970). Liberatory learning inspires us to think critically, freeing the mind and raising consciousness, and taking action to advance social change and transformation (hooks, 1994; Sayles-hannon, 2007). In 2022, NCLP and the Symposium community committed to continual exploration, learning, and growth to advance liberatory pedagogy and practice in leadership education. This work is ongoing, for ourselves as individuals and for our institutions. As such, Symposia themes will continue to center liberation in leadership learning and development.

We began the 2023 Symposium by reconnecting with the notion of liberation, who we are in the work toward liberation, and how it connects to leadership learning and development. We then dove more deeply into the question, “How do we do this?” or, ways to incorporate liberatory practice into our work as leadership educators. For 2023, we focused on the philosophy and practice of co-construction as a valuable tool in design, teaching, and facilitating, including:

  • Challenging dominant narratives to critically examine messages of what leadership is and who it is for in leadership education
  • Centering narratives of diverse and marginalized people and communities
  • Designing with instead of for learners
  • Engaging learner experience and voice in learning environments

The journey toward liberatory practice includes more than checklists and simple “how-tos.” The Symposium is an opportunity to engage in critical reflective practice and enact change in your role as a leadership educator. This holistic learning experience will influence your personal leadership practice to help you transform programs and pedagogies.


Symposium Scholars-in-Residence are selected for their record of scholarship, practice, and community-building within the field of leadership education. Caring deeply about advancing critical leadership conversations, Symposium scholars craft a unique learning experience with and for Symposium participants each year and serve as guides through discussion, reflection, and engagement around the Symposium topic.

We were honored to have the following scholars-in-residence with us in 2023 to guide our experience together. Each of these leadership educators shares a commitment to co-construction in their work:


A vital source of support for Symposium scholars and participants (and experienced leadership educators themselves), the Symposium planning team includes faculty associates and volunteers from NCLP, our partner organizations, and our host campus. Planning team members facilitate the overall Symposium experience, assist Symposium scholars with curriculum planning, and handle all program logistics.


Plans for the 2025 Leadership Educators Symposium are underway! Be sure to check back for updates.

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