About the Leadership Academy


The Leadership Academy at the University of Ottawa is a campus-wide initiative stemming from a partnership between the Faculties of Law, Engineering and Social Sciences based on the proposition that to be an effective leader, and to provide effective action, one must focus on being. The Leadership Academy is built around a cluster of ideas, practices, projects, course offerings and professional training on the thriving science of leadership.

Mission of the Leadership Academy: Risk. Discover. Be.

Adapting to the challenges of the 21st Century requires creating, developing, nourishing and expanding what it means to exercise leadership. This is true in research, but also in virtually any aspect of our lives. Stemming from a partnership between the Faculties of Law, Engineering and Social Sciences, the Leadership Academy has set out to develop leadership, both as a practice and as a science.

The Leadership Academy aims to articulate an expanded vision of leadership by bringing together leading thinkers in human development like Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen, Jeri Echeverria and Steve Zaffron with a tradition of critical thinking in the humanities and the sciences developed by authors like Michel Foucault, Erich Fromm, Mary Parker Follett and Francisco Varela. The Academy will follow through on this vision by promoting innovative courses like its signature “ontological-phenomenological” leadership training course; by developing an agenda of interdisciplinary research around the science of leadership; by hosting transformational coaching and mentoring services; and by putting all of this into action for the benefit of the entire university community and beyond.

This novel way of looking at leadership is in line with a broader trend in higher education that emphasizes a re-examination of traditional pedagogical approaches and development programs in favour of equipping the leaders of tomorrow with the tools they need to be adaptable to the uncertainties of an unstable future. It’s an approach that places an emphasis on learning how to learn, and it is fully in line with the Academy’s mission of exploring how to best generate and develop leadership in a way that is democratic and interdisciplinary.

“Our Academy offers a vision of leadership fundamentally rooted in the humanities and critical thinking, working closely with all disciplines,” says the director of the Leadership Academy, Margarida Garcia. “At the heart of any innovative project, creative endeavour or process of social and institutional change, there is the exercise of leadership. The Academy has set out to produce knowledge on the practice and the science behind these ways of being and acting that we intuitively recognize as the hallmarks of effective leadership, building its activities upon three pillars: ‘ontological’ leadership education; research on the science of leadership; and professional development available to everyone”.

Upcoming training and course offerings

Leadership in Academia and in Life

Being a student in the 21st century demands much more than having specialized knowledge. To that effect, the course Leadership in Academia and in Life offers a training that deviates from the traditional teaching model, based on the addition of knowledge, to adopt a more experiential model that promotes discovery learning. Through this course, you will have access to a new approach to leadership: you will see and live leadership as a way of being and acting that is accessible to all and not necessarily linked to notions of charisma, title or authority; you will design and carry out your own leadership project; and you will know how to make significant changes in your professional and personal lives – in any environment and under any circumstances. To undertake this training, you must register in one of the following courses, offered in the Winter 2022 session:

  • CML 4112-C Interdisciplinary Studies in Law (Lecture; English) – Wed 1:00 PM-4:50 PM (Seminar) –  FTX 359 - Jan. 31 2022 – Apr 8 2022
  • CRM 6380 - Selected Topics I (Lecture; English) – Mon 2:30 – 5:20 PM (800 King Edward – STE – A0150) – Jan 10, 2022 – Apr 9, 2022
  • DCL 6339 - Special Topics In Law (Lecture; English) – Mon 2:30 – 5:20 PM (800 King Edward – STE – A0150) – Jan 10, 2022 – Apr 9, 2022
  • GNG 3100 - Topics in Engineering I (Lecture; English) – Mon 2:30 – 5:20 PM (800 King Edward – STE – A0150) – Jan 10, 2022 – Apr 9, 2022
  • SCS 4100-C - Selected Topics III (Lecture; English) – Mon 2:30 – 5:20 PM (800 King Edward – STE – A0150) – Jan 10, 2022 – Apr 9, 2022
  • DRC 4781 Exercer du leadership en droit et dans la vie (Lecture; French) – Thu, 1:00 PM-3:50 PM (live on Zoom) – Jan 13, 2022 – Apr 7, 2022.


Future Training Offerings

Information on future training offerings, including courses adapted to students, business people, community and professional groups, the public service and the general public will be posted in the coming months. Future courses will be offered in French as well as English. Sign up below to be kept informed of future training offerings.

Send me information about upcoming training opportunities

Training program: A transformational experience

Leadership Academy - training program

The Leadership Academy’s training program is based on the renowned leadership training course “Being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership: an ontological-phenomenological model”, co-designed by Werner Erhard (independent thinker), Michael C. Jensen (Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School), Steve Zaffron (Founder and Head of Research and Development, Vanto Group) and Jeri Echeverria (Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, California State University System (ret.)). The training evolves through a series of structured dialogues designed to bring about leadership mastery in any situation. Drawing on insights from a range of fields, including neuroscience, linguistics and philosophy, the course shows that leadership is not an intrinsic quality that leaders possess; it is a way of being that is open to all of us and which can be brought to any leadership challenge.

The course encourages participants to imagine a created future, and to allow the possibilities of that future to influence how they live in the present, with its set circumstances. Participants engage in this endeavour by way of a course leadership project – simultaneously a playground in which to experiment with the course’s teachings and an opportunity to influence a situation in their lives requiring leadership.

Participants who have taken the course have engaged in leadership projects on an exceptionally wide range of topics, from addressing violence against women in a family context, to understanding the effects of isolation on elderly people. Other projects have sought to directly engage with different communities, from, for example, providing free CPR and AED training that is linguistically and culturally adapted to an underserved community, to creating institutional initiatives that aim to promote student mental health and well-being. The course provides participants with the tools they need to create and see their way through projects that can only occur through their intervention and contribution.

If the approach is of interest, Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen (with Kari Granger) wrote the Chapter entitled “Creating Leaders: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model” for the book The Handbook for Teaching Leadership: Knowing, Doing, and Being, edited by Scott Snook, Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer; Nitin Nohria, HBS Dean and George Baker Professor of Administration; and Rakesh Khurana, Dean of Harvard College.

Our team: Interdisciplinarity and different perspectives

Margarida Gracia

Margarida Garcia

Margarida Garcia is a jurist, criminologist and sociologist. She holds the position of Assistant Dean, Research (2017-2021), and Professor at the Faculty of Law (University of Ottawa), and also teaches at the Faculty of Social Sciences. She teaches leadership, epistemology and the methodology of research in law. Her interdisciplinary work focuses on the theme of innovation and the obstacles to innovation in law reform (especially in the area of criminal law and human rights) and in institutional change. Her research focuses on the concept of human rights and relies on the contributions and active participation of Canadian, European and South American judicial actors (especially judges and crown prosecutors). She is currently undertaking research on leadership in times of crisis and on the concept of failure. Her work explores social and normative innovation at the crossroads of the legal and non-legal knowledge produced by law and by the social sciences. This is an approach that Professor Garcia considers essential for understanding the development of standards in a multicultural, pluralistic and diverse world.

Marc Dubé

Marc Dubé

Marc Dubé is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He is the former Vice-Dean Research for his Faculty and has also served as Department Chair. He is a Fellow of both the Engineering Institute of Canada and the Chemical Institute of Canada. He performs research in sustainable polymer reaction engineering: making polymers from renewable materials such as starch, cellulose, lignin, limonene and glycerol to make coatings and adhesives that have a lower impact on the environment. Marc is committed to mentoring his uOttawa colleagues to help them achieve their top performance in not only teaching, research and academic service, but in living balanced, happy and fulfilling lives.

Richard Dubé

Richard Dubé

Richard Dubé is a Full Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Canada Research Chair in Legal Traditions and Penal Rationality. His main fields of interest lie in the sociology of law. His current research focuses on reform of the criminal justice system, its fundamental principles and objectives, modern theories of punishment, and the conditions necessary for the emergence of innovative ideas in the field of criminal justice. His work has been the subject of several publications, notably in the journals Les Cahiers de droit, Droit et Société, Champ pénal and Déviance et Société. He has also co-edited a book on the topic of sentencing entitled Modern Criminal Rationality: Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Explorations, published in 2013 by the University of Ottawa Press. He is currently working on the development of a sociological theory of dysfunctional social systems.

Cintia Quiroga

Cintia Quiroga

Cintia Quiroga is Assistant Dean Research at the Faculty of Law. She is committed to sustaining the development of creative, innovative and inclusive research environments that promote collaboration among disciplines and the use of multiple methods to connect with diverse communities. Trained initially in developmental psychology methods, she has a varied experience in interdisciplinary research, having worked on large-scale longitudinal research projects, particularly in schools, hospitals, and communities with vulnerable or equality seeking groups. She teaches research methodology at the Faculty of Law and is interested in knowledge mobilization. Cintia Quiroga is a member of the Research Centre for the Future of Cities.

Andrew Kuntze

Andrew Kuntze

Andrew Kuntze works as the Research Communications Strategist at the Research Office of the Faculty of Law. He collaborates with researchers in law to promote the visibility of their work, developing innovative textual and visual narratives to support knowledge mobilization. Committed to telling stories that bring research to life, Andrew oversees research award nomination files, as well as all research-related communications, including knowledge dissemination campaigns on social media networks. Andrew has been trained in the delivery of ontological leadership course material and has served as a part-time professor in the Common Law Section, delivering the course Law, Life and Leadership to students in January 2021. Andrew holds a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature.

Research: Exploring the ontological paradigm

 Exploring the onotological paradigm

Beyond the ontological training courses, the Academy has a major research component exploring the thriving science of leadership. As just one example, a large study, “Leadership in Times of Crisis, Failure and Breakdown: What Does it Mean? What Does it Look Like?”, is currently being conducted by Professors Margarida Garcia and Richard Dubé.

As a hub for ontological leadership, the Academy aims to attract people from the region, across the country and around the world to contribute to its cutting-edge work on the ecology of effective and transformational leadership. With this in mind, it will organize specialized events and will continue to develop an extensive research agenda around ontological inquiry, in addition to tailored workshops and training and mentoring services.

More information on these offerings will be made available soon.

The alumni community: sharing, collegiality, support

 sharing, collegiality, support

Coline Moreau

First meeting of the Leadership Course Alumni Community

The University of Ottawa Leadership Academy team is pleased to announce the very first meeting of the Leadership Course Alumni Community. 

This meeting will take place via Zoom on Saturday, October 2nd 2021 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Ottawa time).

During the introductory session, we will present to you in detail what the alumni community project consists of, we will explain the flow of the meetings, we will introduce the members of the team and we will listen to your wishes and suggestions. We will then get to the heart of the matter with a session on integrity. 

If you are an alumnus of the leadership course and would like to participate in this meeting, please let us know by sending an email to leadership.academy.alumni@uottawa.ca so we can send you the Zoom link.

We are looking forward to seeing you again ! 


The Alumni Community

The Leadership Academy alumni community is an assembly of people who have participated in a leadership course at the University of Ottawa derived from the course "Being a Leader and Effective Leadership: An Ontological/Phenomenological Model". Both (former) students as well as professors and administrative staff (from all Faculties) are welcome to become a member.

This project, led by Coline Moreau, a doctoral student from the Faculty of Social Sciences, offers the opportunity for participants of the leadership course to continue climbing the “mountain with no top” after the course is completed. It creates an opportunity for alumni to stay in the conversation of the course, to have the opportunity to share their discoveries and experiences, to support each other in their journeys and to have the opportunity to maintain contact with colleagues who have had the same experience.

Meetings will be held on a monthly basis. They will take place via Zoom, given the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The meetings will be bilingual, French-English. 

To register or be kept informed of the meetings program, please send an email with your contact details to the following address: leadership.academy.alumni@uottawa.ca.



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The Leadership Academy is an exercise in consciousness-raising, introspection and self-discovery. It’s not about theory, but about reflection, which in the end, naturally makes us better leaders.

Terry Skolnik
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section
University of Ottawa

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Through the exercises and reflections, this course changed my relationship with myself and revolutionized my way of being and acting in the world.

Coline Moreau
Doctoral candidate in Criminology
University of Ottawa


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This is a unique course that allowed me to learn more about myself. It has provided me with a toolkit that I can rely on to exercise leadership effectively.

Jaskeerat Heera
Student, Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa



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The course helped shift my perspective and boost my confidence. It taught me to live life with wonder, and be present in the moment. I learned to get out of my head to truly be ‘out here’ and seize opportunities with the confidence that, I came to learn, I already had within me.

Aena Poologarajah
Student, Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa



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En tant qu’ancien sergent de police, coach d’athlètes, membre du CA d’une association sportive nationale et dirigeant d’entreprise, mener des hommes et des femmes fait partie de ma vie depuis plus de 25 ans. Malgré cette expérience, je me suis surpris à revoir le leadership d’une manière éclairante, utile, efficace, entière et profonde. Avec un grand sourire, à 55 ans, ce cours m’a permis d’évoluer alors que je croyais avoir compris....

Alfredo Muñoz
Student, Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa



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I am eternally grateful to Professors Garcia and Kuntze for delivering this course, for allowing me to rediscover motherhood with my son, revealing my love for law school, restrengthening my commitment to environmental justice, and most importantly, for redirecting me on the path of my personal journey into being. This course is worth so much more than credits. It is not a lesson plan but a practical roadmap to being that this course gifts its students. I highly recommend this course be offered to law students before beginning their 1L semester. I truly believe in its potential to transform the culture and learning of law and leadership for a more positive experience that will pay dividends to all students’ mental health and wellness.

Sundeep Virdi
Student, Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa




Contact Information

Email: leadership.academy@uOttawa.ca



Photos: Marta Sobral Garcia

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