The Case for Leadership [Education] in Social Movements

Transformative Leadership as a Framework for Creating Movement Leaders


  • Jackie Bruce North Carolina State University
  • Katherine McKee North Carolina State University



While there is a breadth of work on leadership of social movements in the existing literature, and that leadership development is foundational to building capacity within those movements (Ganz & McKenna, 2018) what is missing is the conceptualization of what the training and development of that leadership could look like. When examining the leadership theories in both academic and popular press texts, scholars identify a prevailing lens that centers white, masculinized, euro-centric schools of thought that are tied to materialism and commodification (Dugan, 2017; Noble et al., 2022; Rost & Barker, 2000) which make them insufficient to address the preparation of, and contrary to the aim of, social movement leaders. In this manuscript we offer transformative leadership (Shields, 2010) and the Transformative Leaders Identity Model as an alternative paradigm. Coupled with the appropriate pedagogical strategies discussed herein, this has been demonstrated as an effective way for prospective social movement leaders to develop the skills necessary to engage in the work.