A Retrospective Study of Academic Leadership Skill Development, Retention and Use: The Experience of the Food Systems Leadership Institute

The Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI) is a 2-year leadership development program consisting of 3 intensive in-person immersion retreats, and a robust and customizable distance-based program. Participants come primarily from land-grant and public universities and learn about personal, organizational and system leadership with a focus on food systems as an organizing theme. For this study, program graduates from FSLI Cohorts 4-6 (n=60) were asked to complete an online retrospective pre- and post-test of skill competency and skill use for 20 competencies addressed in the program, with 47 (78%) completing the survey. Data indicate participants’ ratings of skill competency increased significantly across all 20 targeted areas. Participants further noted that they used these skills more after completing the program as compared to prior to the Fellowship training. Data suggest the FSLI model of leadership development can have a significant impact on participants’ perceived skill level in and use of important skills in both personal and organizational leadership in academic and food system settings.