Embodying Authentic Leadership Through Popular Education at Highlander Research and Education Center: A Qualitative Case Study


In 2013 and 2014, workshops were held at Highlander Research and Education Center that explored the topics of authentic leadership and popular education. The participants shared their experiences through reflective writing upon completion of the workshops and approximately a year following. These reflections were developed into a case study. This article describes how the workshops influenced the participants as they recognized personal and professional changes and impacts made from the Highlander experience. Four topics informed the analysis of workshop participants’ experiences: participation training, authentic leadership, popular education, and the position of Highlander as a historic place of learning for social justice. The themes found in the study were sorted into clusters that included (a) primacy of place and inspiration; (b) authentic leadership; (c) collaboration and community building through art and storytelling, humor, and trust; (d) self-discovery and transformation; and (e) direct applications and further action.

Publication Title

Adult Learning