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Students collaborate with Russian university

Students collaborate with Russian university

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A group of first-year students at Lycoming College gained a unique cultural and academic experience by completing team projects with students from Ural State Pedagogical University in Russia. The students conducted video calls with Russian students weekly, as well as exchanged written communications, all for a First-year Seminar entitled “Changing the World – Psychology of Global Leadership.”

What makes leaders great, terrible, or simply mediocre? Are leaders defined by their traits, behaviors, influence on followers, or ability to create change? How is leadership perceived, defined, and practiced differently around the world?

It was through these questions that the class endeavored to examine leadership theories and practices in a global context. Lori Curtindale, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Lycoming College, created the course with the intention of going beyond the regular instruction of psychology to allow students to get a first-hand experience with others from a different part of the world.

“Each student team in the class worked with Russian students to identify and critically examine an international problem and develop a plan to address the issue and facilitate change,” said Curtindale. “It was a valuable experience that gave students an opportunity to practice leadership and collaboration skills that they will take with them throughout their college experience and beyond.”

Students focused on identifying personal leadership strengths and weaknesses, and applying the skills necessary to meet challenges and affect positive change in an increasingly connected world.

Part-way through the semester, Russia invaded Ukraine, leaving many to wonder how the war would affect their interactions. Freshman David Kong said, “We learned about the things that Russians enjoy or don't like, and some cultural things… It was pretty interesting when the whole Ukraine situation happened.” Kong added that the interactions remained fairly academic throughout the course.

“Changing the World – Psychology of Global Leadership” is one of many Lycoming College First-Year Seminars, all of which offer students an opportunity to explore unfamiliar topics. Their purpose is to broaden minds and help students discover a new interest. Each First-Year Seminar meets a general education requirement, helping to advance students toward graduation. Other first-year seminars include “Zen and Art,” “Medieval Food and Culture,” and many more.

More information about psychology at Lycoming College can be found at

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