Leveraging Sail Training to Build the Next Generation of
GLOBAL Leaders for Peace
Tim O’Brien, Harvard University
What if the leaders of Israel, Palestine and the United States were put on a sailboat and forced to live and work together? As lofty as it may sound, sail training has much to contribute to developing the next generation of world leaders. Sail training + dialogue + interrogating traditional notions of leadership = young leaders with more processing power to resolve the complex politics of today’s globalized world.
Drawing upon lessons learned from the Seas of Peace program and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, this session explores how leadership dialogue sessions and the secluded nature of life at sea can foster empathy, teamwork, cultural awareness, and intellectual curiosity for sail trainings newest market — young leaders of the world from all contexts. Based on research conducted at the Kennedy School, this session identifies two important distinctions in leader development education: 1) informational learning that provides new skills and 2) transformational learning that fundamentally shifts students’ understanding of leadership, teams, groups and themselves. The decks of our tall ships are powerful mechanisms for building leaders who are better equipped to make change happen, not just learn how to be in charge.
Tim O’Brien, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy and advanced doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in the Human Development program, researches adult development, identity formation, experiential learning, clinical teaching methods, and leadership education. Tim consults to organizations, developing leadership capacity at all levels of the organizational chart. He works closely with those leaders to orchestrate systemic interventions and overcome powerful status quos that resist innovation and adaptation. He designed programs for Seeds of Peace — a summer camp program for teens and young adults from conflict affected regions – which partnered with Tall Ships America member organizations Spirit of South Carolina, Ocean Classroom Foundation and World Ocean School aboard Roseway. Seeds of Peace is most known for its work with young people from Israel and Palestine, but also works with youth from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Jordan and the US.