Global Leadership Lessons from a Global War

Global Leadership Lessons from a Global War

The National WWII Museum’s 2017 Student Leadership Academy
New Orleans / July 8-14, 2018

What Would You Do?
  You are the American Naval Commander of Task Force 58. Planes from your aircraft carriers have conducted a dangerous, long-range, but successful, mission to attack a Japanese fleet. They are now returning, in the dark, to their carriers. Do you illuminate your aircraft carriers’ flight decks to guide your pilots safely in, risking attack on your entire task force by nearby Japanese submarines?  Or do you maintain your blackout, shielding your ships in darkness, but effectively blinding your returning flyers?

What Would You Do?  It’s a simple question with no easy answers.  Yet thousands of similar questions beset planners, individuals, and commanders throughout WWII.  Was there a moral choice? A value choice? Did they always make the correct decision?  Was there always a correct decision?

The National WWII Museum’s Summer Leadership Academy is the ideal experience for any student looking to expand his or her historical knowledge, sharpen research and debate skills, gain leadership skills, practice decision making, and engage in an immersive summer study program with a diverse group of students.

For more information, please refer to the website located at:

It’s your turn to make history…

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans offers rising high school sophomores, junior, and seniors a summer experience unlike any other.  The Student Leadership Academy takes students through the history of WWII with the aim of exploring leadership lessons from one of the most important periods in world history.

In the active pursuit of history, the Student Leadership Academy gives students the knowledge they need and puts them in the place of historical actors in the WWII story.  But what decisions they make and what leadership decisions and strategies they choose will spell the difference between victory and defeat.  Students will be challenged individually and as a group as they contemplate strategies large and small, encounter ethical dilemmas, and face no-win situations.  The goal is not for students to learn how to attack a defended beach or decide what types of airplanes to build, but to recognize how the leadership and decisions of individuals—good or bad, right or wrong, or somewhere in between—can affect a single life, a team, and organization, or the whole world.  Ultimately, students will recognize that they are the leaders, decision makers, and problem solvers of their futures.

What Would You Do? Research, Debate, Decision

In preparation for the trip to New Orleans, Seminar Students work throughout the spring with Museum historians, educators, and curators, delving into our world-class collections of digitized, online WWII archives and oral histories.  With the knowledge and insight gained from these explorations, students research their options and develop their arguments—pro and con—for a variety of decisions made during WWII, from generals to privates, from presidents to private citizens.

Once in New Orleans, students not only tour the Museum’s exhibits and archives, but delve into its What Would You Do? multi-media curriculum of WWII leadership dilemmas.  In role-playing advisory sessions, students offer point and counterpoint to those vital decisions that had to be made over 70 years ago.  Can they convince their fellow students to follow their decision?  Will the strongest arguments and best research win the day?   Students, in essence, become their own historians while gaining insights into leadership and character development.  Evening debriefs of the day’s debates center on how students can apply the lessons learned to their lives today.

Academic Benefits

ŸCollege credit

ŸExploration of leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving principles

ŸIntense study program

ŸAcademically rigorous study of WWII history

ŸInteraction with the Museum’s historians, curators, and educators

ŸHistorical role-playing , debate prep and presentation

ŸCertificate of Completion from the Museum

ŸCreation of a leadership portfolio suitable for college applications

Program Features

Five days/six nights at New Orleans 3 star rated hotel (located within a few blocks of the Museum’s downtown location)

Student to mentor ratio of no more than 10 to 1 throughout the program

Chaperoned throughout the entire program

Behind-the-scenes tours of the Museum’s collection vault, restoration pavilion, armored vehicle and airplane warehouse

Special staff ride to Chalmette Battlefield (site of 1815 Battle of New Orleans)

Visit to NASA Michoud Assembly Facility (WWII site of Higgins Industries)

Camaraderie, travel, fun learning experience


Students will:

Explore the strategies and decisions that led to Allied Victory in Europe and the Pacific

Identify and make connections to leadership traits integral to Allied Victory in WWII that are relevant to college and career paths

Learn and develop leadership skills

Develop their research skills through both primary and secondary source research

Write clear and concise content for a specific audience of peers and museum professionals

Improve presentation and debate skills as they present to both their peers and museum professionals

Identify the major theaters of World War II (Europe, Pacific, Home Front)

Learn through the personal stories of those who were there