Drury Leadership Academy Courses

As of now, camp is going forward online. Please continue to sign up and send in your applications. You can either include a deposit check (your check will be held until final plans have been decided) or send a note letting us know you will pay later. DLA is full, but we are starting a waiting list. Email

Morning Courses 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The Day Everything Changed

“The only thing constant in life is change,” says the philosopher Heraclitus. Yet some changes, historians tell us, were more significant than others and- - through numerous connections and instances of cause and effect - - have had such significant changes upon or mindsets that they have essentially “changed our universe.” In this course, we will examine the events, inventions, and discoveries that have perhaps forever changed our reality and investigate how basic ideas of love, beauty, heroes, failure, manners, and the like have changed dramatically over the centuries. Then again, there others who suggest that change and progress are mere illusion and that history is “eandem, sed aliter” (the same, but different). Join us as we trace the origins of basic attitudes from humble and often totally unrelated beginnings in The Day Everything Changed.    

Instructor:  Scott Henderson, Columbia Independent School, Columbia, Missouri

Civil Discourse

Can you disagree without being disagreeable? Do you wonder why Congress has trouble passing legislation? Are you tired of all the name-calling in politics? Civil Discourse will teach you ways to have meaningful, constructive discussions about controversial topics. Drawing on principles from argumentations, group problem-solving, and conflict resolution, you will gain respect for the ideas and beliefs of others while clarifying your own personal beliefs and values.

Instructor: Tom Gist, Drury University, Springfield


Is euthanasia a viable option for pain? Is cloning the key to immortality? How do you feel about genetically custom made children? Just because we can, does it mean we should? As science and technology advance these and many more bio-ethical questions will need answers. Answers that will affect and decide our future! Join the discussion so you can answer the question…Should we or shouldn’t we, do we or don’t we? 

Instructor: Jackie McCarthy, Phelps Center for Gifted Education - WINGS, Springfield

War of Words

On October 30, 1968, a radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” created an unprecedented reaction among listeners.  It demonstrated the influence of media, which has only grown over time -- particularly thanks to the advent of the internet.

Concepts like semantics, connotation, implicit and explicit bias, privilege, and power often surface in discussions of media influence, but in modern society these terms manifest themselves in many different ways; it can be overwhelming to consider it all without the ability to locate, evaluate, and synthesize information.

This course will examine the history of media’s influence on society, including the prevalence of media resources in modern society.  You will analyze various types of media using critical thinking and media literacy skills.  Media will be viewed through historical and cultural lenses, requiring the consideration of multiple perspectives.  You will be empowered to express your thinking through discussion, writing, visual mediums, and more.

Instructor:  Meredith Burstin Wisniewski, EVP, GAM @MSki81 @GAMGifted

Afternoon Courses 1:30 - 4:00 p.m.

DLA Improv- Virus Style

What you can expect from the DLA COMMUNITY IMPROV: First, you will become “experts” at what it means to improvise, both in performance and in life.  Most people think of the popular television show, Whose Line is It Anyway, when they think of improvisation. However, there is so much more to learn. We will, of course, explore the games made famous by Drew Carey and his cast, but we will also look at the historical references to improvisation. In addition, we will explore how improvisation enhances life skills of spontaneity, collaboration, communication, and confidence.  Finally, we will use improvisation not only for entertainment, but as a technique to address social issues in our society. We will most of all have fun and learn through building a community and laughter.

Instructor: Gretchen Teague, Ed.D. Central High School, Springfield

Philosophy 101: It's All In Your Head

Of all the disciplines, philosophy asks the deepest and most far-reaching questions. How does one obtain wisdom? Does knowledge come from reason or from experience? What is the ultimate substance of the world? Is it material or ideal? Are human actions free or determined? Is morality relative or absolute? We will investigate these and other problems as we become acquainted with the nature of Western philosophy and philosophical life. To accomplish these goals, you will investigate the works and ideas of such famous philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bacon, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and others. Required materials: a sense of wonder.

Instructor: Scott Henderson, Columbia Independent School, Columbia, Missouri


Who will become our next President and Vice-President? You have a stake in this and can help develop/inform/and sway voters.  This class will allow you to learn about campaigns and elections. We will evaluate presidential primaries, presidential debates, and even cover the electoral college. You will interact with individuals who have worked on political campaigns, as well as learn about the different types of campaign strategies. We will also spend a day looking at elections and public perceptions through the lens of public figures and shows like Saturday Night Live. 

Instructor: Jordan Butcher, Missouri University, Columbia

Senior Leadership Experience

If you have graduated from high school, this is the class available for you to participate in DLA. You will use some of the residential activities as a hands-on learning experience to apply what you have been working on in class. You will live in the dorm and participate in all residential activities. There will be some time when your role in these activities may differ from a traditional resident as you will be applying your classroom knowledge in a leadership position. $30 FEE – Seniors only.

Instructor: Drury University Leadership Professor, Drury University, Springfield