Columbia Osterbrock Leadership Program: Inclusive Leadership for Astronomy’s Future

Leadership matters. 2020 taught us that the leaders of the future will need to rethink what leadership itself means. They must be capable of leading through the change that is needed to bring out the best from the full diversity of talent in society, and adept at fostering communities where differences between members can be built on as strengths and not seen as roadblocks to progress.

The Columbia Osterbrock Leadership Program will commence in September of 2021 with the selection of the first cohort of five fellows chosen by competitive application from the first- through fourth-year classes. Our program has been designed to incorporate both training in essential leadership skills and applying those skills through experiences in the broader community. In addition to having all students attend one major TAC and assuring that students will be present at AAS meetings to meet with the other NOLP Fellows, each two-year cohort will engage in the following additional activities:

  • attend the AAS Congressional Visiting Day in one of the two years to learn about the legislative processes that support science and participate in visits to their congressional representatives;
  • participate in a management leadership skills workshop conducted by Prof. of Leadership and Ethics Adam Galinsky of the Columbia Business School;
  • participate in a workshop on ethical leadership run by Prof. Elizabeth Emens from the Columbia Law School;
  • participate in a workshop on conflict resolution led by the Director of the Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Prof. Peter Coleman of Columbia’s Teachers College;
  • participate in a week-long workshop on public speaking led by the Chair of the Committee;
  • participate in a week-long workshop on writing, both technical writing and writing for the public;
  • design and implement a significant project to enhance departmental life and/or our impact in New York City for the growing astronomical community, students, and/or the general public;
  • design and implement an Introduction to Research, a two-day workshop for undergrad summer researchers;
  • meet monthly with the astronomy department members of the Advisory Committee;
  • meet thrice yearly with the full Advisory Committee to present progress on their projects and engage in a celebratory reception and/or dinner;
  • apply to the ComSciCon conferences on science communication (these are highly competitive, so we have budgeted for two students being able to attend each year);
  • following each AAS meeting, prepare a formal presentation to the department on the public policy and town hall discussions at the meeting.

Each fellow will accumulate an e-portfolio that highlights lessons learned in the program.  All of our workshops will be designed around cultivating an inclusive leadership style that equips our fellows to navigate and lead the diverse workforce of the future.

In addition to members of our faculty and graduates of our program who now hold leadership positions in a variety of venues, we will also have the counsel of Dr. Viraj Pandya, a former UCSC Osterbrock Fellow who will take up his Hubble Fellowship at Columbia this fall.

We are excited about the inauguration of our NOLP Fellows and look forward to working closely with the programs at UCSC and UC Irvine to build this important new feature of graduate education in astronomy.