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Seventh Annual "Books that Changed the World" Seminar

Notre Dame College is proud to present its seventh annual “Books That Changed the World” seminar series for the 2014-2015 academic year, offering leaders and aspiring leaders—and anyone with a passion for lifelong learning—the opportunity to meet and discuss a common theme for the year.

This year’s series will explore Leadership: The Moral Challenge, seeking insight into the moral, social and cultural challenges faced by leaders of the past and present. Themes explored during the seminar include leadership styles, role models and culture and gender impact on leadership decisions. Selected books include stories of historical figures, fictional characters and first-person accounts of moral leadership dilemmas and decisions.

Seminars anchored in the "great books tradition" draw leaders into thought-provoking analyses of contemporary issues through the medium of timeless literature and are among the most eagerly sought-after personal enrichment and professional development experiences. The ideas, concepts and situations these works present are as relevant to today’s challenges and opportunities as when they were first penned.

The College invites organizational or community leaders, or people who are passionate about great books and lifelong learning, to participate in "Books That Changed the World" and join peers in stimulating discussions about fine literature.

The seminar this year also is part of the College’s "Second Act: A Revitalization of Arts and Culture in the Community" grant program with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. The initiative recognizes the importance of strengthening community partnerships through engagement in the arts, culture and lifelong learning.

The Schedule

To register or for additional information, please call April Kennedy at 216.373.5238 or send an e-mail to akennedy@ndc.edu.

Participants will meet monthly to discuss a great literary work during a 90-minute session. During each session, participants will explore and discuss a different great work.

Those who enroll will receive a detailed schedule in advance.

Participants can choose between three sessions, as the seminar will meet one Tuesday evening, one Wednesday morning or one Thursday morning each month, beginning in September 2014 and ending in April 2015. The dates are: September 9, 10 and 11; October 14, 15 and 16; November 18, 19 and 20; December 9, 10 and 11; January 13; February 10, 11 and 12; March 10, 11 and 12; and April 14, 15 and 16.

Note: The only January 2015 session will be on January 13 and is "An Evening of Film Discussion: A Man for All Seasons." Participants will receive a DVD of the film to view at their leisure prior to the evening’s discussion.

The Presenters

Kenneth Palko, M.A., is associate professor of philosophy on the Notre Dame faculty and has been with the College for nearly 15 years.

Sr. Eileen Quinlan, Ph.D., SND, is professor of English/communication and a published author. She joined Notre Dame’s faculty in the fall of 1999.

Nicholas R. Santilli, Ph.D., is vice president of academic and student affairs and professor of psychology at Notre Dame. He joined the College in 2012.


Participants will meet in the elegant, wood-paneled Tudor-style Great Room in the Administration Building on the Notre Dame campus, where ample free parking is available.


Tuition is $395 and includes all eight sessions, books and materials and refreshments.


To register by mail, complete the “Leadership: the Moral Challenge” registration form and mail it to: Notre Dame College, 4545 College Road, South Euclid, Ohio 44121 ATTN: April Kennedy

To register by fax, complete the “Leadership: the Moral Challenge” registration form and fax to: 216.381.5096 ATTN: April Kennedy

To register by phone, call April Kennedy at 216.373.5238

When you call, you will need to identify whether you will be paying by check or credit card and provide your name; address; city; state; zip code; email address; and home, office and cell phone numbers so the College has multiple ways to contact you should it be necessary.

If paying by credit card, please be prepared to provide your credit card number, credit card type, security code and expiration date.

Please let us know whether you prefer to come to the Notre Dame campus to pick up your books or if you would like them delivered to you. If you prefer delivery, please provide a shipping address.

The Reading List

The works chosen for the upcoming year will be used as case for group discussion. They are:

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney (September)

What is my leadership style?

In this 2003 award-winner, Chris Lowney argues that the bottom line for a successful business is not profits but rather a corporate culture in which everyone shares the same heart. Balancing case studies of Wall Street success against his own research into a 450-year-old business that changed the world, Lowney describes a leadership culture based on four core beliefs: self-awareness, ingenuity, heroism and love. That transformative leadership culture? The Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—whose core principles have much to offer to contemporary leaders.

Emma by Jane Austen (October)

Am I ready to take responsibility?

"Emma knows best," or so thinks Emma Woodhouse, central character of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel. Emma assesses the personalities and manages the relationships of her circle of acquaintances. Under the guise of benevolent friendship, Emma manipulates eligible young women and potential suitors. Who benefits? In the end, who is happy?

Henry IV by William Shakespeare (November)

Who are my role models?

One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays with both the public and the critics, Henry the IV (part I) begins with Hotspur in battle in 1402 and ends with the 1403 victory at Shrewsbury. Our theme of leadership—in particular, the question of role models—comes to life when King Henry IV questions his son’s choice of friends. Prince Hal has forsaken the Royal Court to join his lowly friends in a life of drinking, joking and whoring, mentored by the old, drunk, corrupt but ever charismatic Sir John Falstaff. When rebellion provides an opportunity to transform himself from a tavern brawler into a warrior prince, the prince gains the admiration of the Court and his father, the King.

Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (December)

How do culture and gender impact my leadership decisions?

When Kingston published her book in 1975, critics didn’t know if they should consider it fiction, mythology, autobiography, cultural studies or some composite genre. A braid of stories, Woman Warrior is narrated by a Chinese-American daughter whose mother and aunts raise her on venerable stories of the old country, a hefty dose of fear of American culture and cautionary tales of women whose actions broke traditional expectations. As the narrator weighs these values, she creates an identity that honors her past and prepares her for an autonomous future.

Movie Night: A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (January)

How well do I combine principles and pragmatism?

Thomas More was a friend and confidant of the Prince of Wales in the early 1500s. But when the prince became King Henry VIII, and their relationship shifted, More learned to walk a fine line between the demands of friendship and the principles that underlay his conscience. With Robert Bolt’s 1960 play, winner of Broadway’s 1962 Tony Award for best play, and the Oscar-winning 1966 film starring Paul Scofield, audiences are invited to continue to reflect on these issues.

What Makes Sammy Run? By Budd Schulberg (February)

Can I resist the flow of success?

Written in 1941 and inspired by the career of the author’s father, this novel chronicles the rags to riches story of Sammy Glick from copyboy to Hollywood mogul. Sammy’s confident, domineering personality drives him to succeed. His actions and the moral choices he makes as he climbs the ladder of success will make for lively discussion as we continue exploring moral leadership. How does success change a person? What happens when one is driven to succeed at all costs?

Selected Stories by Andre Dubus (March)

[“Cadence,” “Killings,” “A Father’s Story,” “Rose”]

How do I handle the consequences of my decisions?

Parents, spouses and military commanders have responsibility for those in their charge as well as themselves. In these four stories, Dubus probes the souls of “responsible parties” as they confront the limits of law, conscience and love.

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (April)

How flexible is my moral code?

This acclaimed 2005 book details the relationships between Lincoln and his cabinet members during the pivotal years 1861-1865. Possessing the political acumen to hold his own “warring” Republican party together, Lincoln assembles a Cabinet, which includes his own political enemies. His flexibility in dealing with the strong personalities and ambitions of men like Bates, Chase, Seward and a core of generals results in the formation of a leadership team that successfully abolishes slavery and wins the American Civil War. President Obama openly acknowledges the book’s influence on the formation of his own first Cabinet and considers it one of his “desert island” selections.

We acknowledge Harvard University and in particular Professors Sandra J. Sucher and Joseph Badaracco for developing this literature-based study of moral leadership and encouraging others to use their approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sets these books apart from others?

These books have literally "changed the world." Repeatedly, alumni and others tell us the part of their college education they valued the most (or, maybe more accurately, came to value as they advanced in their careers and lives) was the liberal arts courses where they confronted great questions—what constitutes the good life and what is my responsibility to myself, to my professional peers and those who work with me, to others and to society. How can these questions be answered? Issues like these are at the core of the seminar series, though the intent is not to provide pat answers, but to provoke deep thinking about core issues that continue to confront our society through the lens of some of the greatest works in our philosophical, political and literary heritage.

How were these books selected?

Much time and effort went into this selection with the thought of how they relate to the conditions faced in lives today. You've probably heard people refer to them but weren't comfortable because you lack familiarity with them. Here is your opportunity to become acquainted or reacquainted with this powerful literature. By attending this seminar, you'll be able to discuss and reflect on key aspects of the works because you know them. You will be "well-read."

Sitting down alone with many of these books and selected readings may be a pleasant pastime, but more is to be gained studying them with a group of peers who offer interpretations and ideas that you may not have considered. Take a moment to review what this seminar offers. See if you don't agree that this is a unique opportunity for those who appreciate fine literature to meet on a regular basis and discuss how these works shaped the world.


For additional information contact April Kennedy at 216.373.5238 or akennedy@ndc.edu.


July 31

The Merchant of Venice

7:00 PM
On the Circle
E.g., 07/28/15
E.g., 07/28/15