Author Archives: Sean Corbett

Blog Post 4/22

I didn’t actually come into my first year at Richmond wanting to do leadership studies. I thought having an undergraduate school of leadership was very interesting, but I didn’t think it was for me. Of course, I came into Richmond wanting to do business and finance so that shows you exactly how ironic that statement is. I’m now a PPEL major, concentrating in politics, with a leadership minor to round out my academic profile. When I made the switch a year ago, frustrated by not liking business and looking to embrace the subjects I loved, I looked to see if I could fit a leadership minor in my course load. I could, so I thought nothing of it and registered for my first leadership class (leadership and the social sciences, if you’re wondering). It just seemed like a natural decision to me: I want to go into the political sphere or work in government, it would make so much sense for me to have academic training in leadership.

I’m now about halfway through the coursework for my minor, and while my prior statement still stands true, it has a lot more depth to it, if that makes sense. I came into Jepson having very little idea of what being taught leadership would entail. I had misconstrued ideas of what an actual leader was, so I’ve had my eyes opened at every turn during my past two semesters of work. I have learned a whole lot about leadership, from the historical context of it, to the applications of it in the humanities and social sciences, the impact of good and bad leadership, and what leadership is. Well, I think I know what leadership is, I’m not actually certain yet. I’m sure that would puzzle my friends and family who I’m certain are curious about what leadership studies students actually do, but I’m sure my peers would echo my statement.

However the most important thing I’ve taken away from leadership comes as a combination of two leadership theories I’ve learned about: Ensemble Leadership Theory and Servant Leadership Theory. ELT promotes a decentralized, group approach to leadership as opposed to one leader, and servant leadership has the leader prioritize the needs and wants of their followers first, before anything else. What I’m getting at? In a nation rocked by racial inequality, political divides, social justice movements, and a To Carry (On and On) feeling of anxiety and doom- leaders are necessary. Good leaders, mind you, those who prioritize the needs of others and not their own goals. We are starting to see more of it, but not enough and not quickly enough.  As Doctor Bezio said in the podcast: there is a lot of risk involved in what we are doing, both in getting a degree in a complex field that isn’t well understood, and what we are going to do with it in the real world- hopefully make some meaningful change. But I have a lot of hope with what we are doing; I am surrounded by dozens of incredibly smart and passionate students in Jepson. It is no doubt in my mind that all of us, along with all those who fight for change and “follow” people like us, will use our metaphorical teacups to fight and beat the rising tide.

Blog Post – 4/20

Watching the music video for “This Is America” was just so engrossing and eye opening for me, especially after not having watched it since it debuted several years ago. Combining that viewing experience with reading the commentary on the video and son by Lamar Osman was very powerful. It is truly amazing the massive amounts of allegories, references, and motifs that Gambino and Hiro Murai stuff into the barely four minute runtime of the song. Allegories to police brutality and hate crimes towards Black Americans are the most vivid and apparent, and obviously the most compelling. But what struck me the most was the commentary of the frenetic, high velocity pace of the video. It truly is a reference to the fast paced world we live in this days; constantly overwhelmed by never ending streams of information, having to keep up with new and increasingly shocking tales of hate and violence every day. That allegory was something I certainly missed n my first viewing all those years ago, but it could not be more relevant now after nearly a year of protests for social justice as large as the original civil rights movement.

On the podcast, I found the ties between jazz and prohibition incredibly fascinating. It is one of those things that made complete logical sense, that I had never really considered before. Of course speakeasies were the perfect way for disadvantaged Black musicians to play at- too risky for white musicians. Jazz clubs and speakeasies were an incredibly interesting time period and “experiment” so to speak in racial integration. What better to bring people together than brand new, bopping Jazz music and alcohol; music and booze being one of the great uniting forces between people in my own anecdotal experience. And since the speakeasies were illegal, who was going to enforce policies of segregation? Not the bar owners in most cases, why would they turn down more money and more entertainment? Of course, policies of segregation would inevitably come back to bars once alcohol was officially legalized again in 1933, but this microcosm of minute integration in America is truly a fascinating time period for me.

Blog Post 4/13

Getting into the nitty gritty of what pop culture actually is in Doctor Bezio’s article was so interesting to me. As is said, pop culture is commonly viewed as juvenile, airheaded, and meaningless; a conflagration of what is popular with the young and or the dumb in the mainstream. When I hear pop culture, I immediately think of tik tok and other social medias and the newest pop music and reality television and the like. But the point about Shakespeare, and how he was lambasted for being vulgar in his time, actually took be aback. I mean, of course Shakespeare was considered pop culture in his days; it was what was popular within society… pop culture. What really hit it home for me was the discussion about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Once again, definitely pop culture, which sparked much discussion and social change and movement at the time of it’s publication. It lit a fire under many of it’s readers, and contributed to the social changes that predicated the Civil War. As Doctor B said, it is easy and wrong to dismiss pop culture (again, a meaningless and airheaded term) as “low brow” but really, it actually isn’t. When I think about pop culture, and at the very least moments in it I’ve been alive for, I realize that I have been around for some pretty impactful moments. The rise of amazing new artists, the release of incredible new technology, the rise of internet culture; all of these things are now accepted as normal. It is, as Doctor B says, a focal point at the center of civilization, but people are just so accustomed to it they don’t notice it.

Podcast 9: Blog Post 4/6

I love history; its been one of my biggest passions since I was little. If a history degree didn’t have so few options that came along with it, I would be pursuing it right now. I mention all of this because I found this podcast extremely interesting. I had heard of historiography before, but never put too much thought into it before now. I mean of course, it makes sense: there has to be a science of the history of how we record history- It just makes sense.

The comments about Great Man theory were interesting to me. It is interesting to see how the thought of leadership and history developed from years on. It is so blatantly sexist and also purely absurd to assume that great leaders are born and cannot be made, and have to be men. But of course, since our Eurocentric history focuses on the achievements of rich, white men, of course scholars are going to buy into this theory. Its certainly wrong, but can you blame them? That information was the only information that was available to them, of course that’s all they are going to talk about it. We only talk about the “great people” of history is because that is where we have the wealth of information from. They make great change (or are perceived to) and thusly get a lot of things written about them.

I very much liked the point on how much information we have and future archaeologists will have on the “common man” from our current age of social media and constant posting about their lives. If a future researcher is able to find my Instagram, Facebook, and twitter, they will be able to piece together a pretty detailed and accurate map of my life. And since I will be long dead, that is far more fascinating to me than it is terrifying.  How will our study of human history change with the trove of information social media has made available about everyday people. What could we have learned if we had this wealth of information from prior history? I wish I knew.

Blog Post- 1952 Election Ads

I got assigned the 1952 presidential election, which pitted Republican Dwight Eisenhower against Democrat Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson. The election was a landslide victory for Eisenhower, winnign 55.9% of the popular vote and 422 Electoral votes to Stevenson’s mere 89. In part, it is likely Eisenhower on the election riding off of his merits as an extraordinarily successful general during the World War Two, wherein he was Supreme Allied Commander Europe, overseeing the invasions of France and Germany, notably D-Day. His win was also a reaction to 20 years of democratic control of the presidency, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt serving from 1932-1945 and Harry Truman serving from 1945 to 1953, where he was term limited.

By far my favorite ad was “Platform Double Talk” ironically from the eventual loser of the election, Stevenson. It was one of the few ads on either side that addressed specific issues.  The attack add portrayed the GOP as a double headed man, with each head giving conflicting answers to questions; one says the US must leave Korea, the other says no, one says we must give economic aid to europe, the other says we shouldn’t. Even though I agreed with Eisenhower and the GOP platform in this election, the ad does a very good job at highlighting how confused voters must be by the contradictions within the GOP platform, which is an important issue. It implies that Stevenson and the Democrats will be plain and straightforward in their policy making. And as I said before, it was one of the few ads from this campaign with substance. Most of the other ads were accusing both sides of non specific corruption (seriously, they woule just call the other side corrupt and give no explanation) or were pointless musical jingles with no better message than reminding you the name of the candidate. “Platform Double Talk” was one of the few ads with an actual message.

MV Simulator

I am going to conclude that this game is broken or designed to be nearly impossible, because my god is this game frustrating. First off, the tutorials are broken so you have no idea how to play the game and are simply thrown in. Secondly, few of the metrics have any labels. My family was using 9.8 wood a day… 9.8 what? Pounds? I needed to know this because we were over harvesting the available fuel wood, and I needed to set collection limits in town. But the collection limits are in tons, and our daily fuel use has no unit. This caused my family to not be able to cook enough food per day, meaning I had to spend more and more money on extra food to prevent starvation. On that, I think it is ridiculous that this so called “not perfect village simulation” mandates each person have 2500 calories. That is very hard to do and the game should allow you to change the metric.

My family started prosperously, albeit with a few minor setbacks due to missing food quota’s and the woman needing medical care. But with the game not informing me on what metrics things like wood are available in, combined with a drought, food yield started declining massively. Not having enough food to sell (combined with not explaining the small business mechanic) led my family to begin to lose money quickly. I increased the quota, which settled that issue, but fuel was still scarce and the following season we missed our food requirement due to the lack of wood. This continued for several more seasons, causing drought and greater food insecurity, along with Fatou getting the flu. Eventually, food stock got depleted and both of my villagers died.

This game is impossible and I did not have a good time playing it. This was my most successful run, not including several runs which failed early. But also I could have just been managing my resources poorly, which is fair enough. not entirely my fault since the game had no tutorial, but certainly eye opening on how hard it is to manage a family- let alone a village. It is certainly a position I wouldn’t want to be in right now. It is challenging, with problems flying at you every minute, which are incredibly hard to manage

I found this Dos Equis commerical very interesting- and also amusing to say the least. The commercial has the ever recurring “Most Interesting Man in the World” appearing in it, a staple of Dos Equis commercials. Commercials featuring him ran for 12 years between 2006-2018. Clearly, it was an effective ad campaign if they kept the same style of commercial running for 12 years. The continuing presence of him in these commercials alone proves that he wasn’t just successful, but that he was popular with viewers as well.

When you think about it, who is the target audience of beer commercials? If you said younger men, you’d be right. All of the Most Interesting man commercials are very clearly aiming towards younger men- this commercial is no exception. This commercial features a man jumping off a high cliff to impress women, and being very macho while recovering from injuries and swimming with monkeys. The whole time the narrator is saying things like “He is the life of parties he never attended” and “Sharks have a week about him”. Clearly, if you drink Dos Equis you will be as macho, sexy, and cool as the most interesting man in the world. In fact, you will be the most interesting man in the world- as the ad ends with “I don’t normally drink beer, but when I do I drink Dos Equis”. Dos Equis knows that this will get in the heads of younger men watching the commercial, to great success. It is an equivocation fallacy, but it is nonetheless effective. It is trying to seduce you with sex and alcohol to make you seem like a greek god, a sex object, but that is exactly what many young men want to be.

The commercial may be macho, relying on predisposed toxic masculinity to be effective; but given the length and success of the ad campaign, who can blame them?


I found this graph extremely intriguing because it confronted my own personal biases. Through high school and definitely into college, the amount of people I know who vape is quite large. It was impossible to go to a part at college without seeing multiple people pull out a vape, with even more people clamoring around to have a “hit” of it. Based on my own limited observations, I would have personally estimated that around 50% of college students vape, if not more. But of course that is not the case. I only saw people who were going to parties, and that usually means these people are more likely to participate in riskier behavior like vaping or drug use. I didn’t mentally take into account the people who don’t go to parties and who don’t take part in these activities. But it is likely that the stats presented in this graph aren’t entirely accurate. How can you accurately measure how many college students vape when there are millions of college students at thousands of schools across the country? A very large sample size would be needed for this data to be accurate. Furthermore, the survey could’ve unintentionally reached a greater population of students who vape than don’t vape. Also, this data is older, when vaping was less popular; I am aware that vaping has exploded amongst younger people since then. This sample in general might not be the most representative sample possible. The sample also isn’t purely random, as some metric had to decide which students and young adults  were getting the survey or not.  All in all, it is likely that the true incidence of vaping amongst teens and college students is either higher or lower than this graphic would lead you to believe.


Blog Post 3

I found the comments on what is normal in a given society or group versus another really compelling as I’ve experienced bits and pieces of this throughout my life. I was raised in a homogenous, mostly white town in Upstate New York for my entire life.  I had very few real life cultural experiences, save for a handful of trips abroad. When I went to Italy, I learned that families often eat dinner late in the night, anywhere from 8-10pm, which shocked me. In America, at least where I come from, dinner is usually at 6:30pm sharp. Why would they eat dinner that later? But an Italian could just as soon ask me “why do you eat dinner so early?” it’s all cultural norms. I turn up my nose and laugh at the amount of young people I meet who don’t have drivers licenses, but realize that many people- especially those in larger cities- don’t need one due to widely available mass transportation (which I never have had), or it its too prohibitively expensive for them to own a car. I come from a wealthier family, so that was something I never really had to sit and think about too hard about.

I think the insights on the war on drugs were fascinating and accurate. However I do have a personal critique on the comments about drug scheduling. I fully understand that the policies against marijuana and drugs in general are steeped in racism and continue to be to this day. But regarding marijuana’s scheduling in the drug schedules I don’t have the world’s largest problem with it. I am pro recreational marijuana, to the fullest extent. But when critically analyzing the drug scheduling, understanding that drugs are scheduled in potential for abuse, harm, and understood medical use, Marijuana seems to be almost accurately placed. While marijuana is most likely the least harmful drug in schedule I and was certainly placed there so it laws could be enforced harder on it- in a manner targeting minority communities- the rest of it’s scheduling (when taken objectively) makes sense. When the scheduling was created there was no accepted medical use for marijuana, and it is a drug that is extremely commonly used, meaning taking those two alone it should be placed in schedule I. There hasn’t been a medical community wide consensus on the actual medicinal benefits of marijuana since (although there are some), so i feel conflicted about it. I feel it should be moved down a schedule, to schedule II, acknowledging its potential for medicinal use and the fact that it is not as harmful as schedule I drugs. But it should stay there, recognizing it is a widely used drug that is not by any means harmless. Simply my opinion, but if we are to make marijuana legal it needs to be acknowledged that- like alcohol and tobacco- it is not a harmless plant that many make it out to be.

IAT Blog Post

I took the IAT test regarding race, and it came out that I have a moderate automatic preference for European americans over African Americans. This test result does not shock me. I grew up in a town that was 94% white in a county that was 94% white. I hardly knew any African American people during my 18 years of living there all the time, I can recall only a few people. Because of this, it happened that my social circle didn’t include any people of African American descent; it didn’t until I came to college. I have a strong memory of stopping in a rest stop in New Jersey when I was about 14 and being shocked by how many people had different color skin than me; I would soon arrive in Washington DC and be shocked that there were more black people there than I was. Does this make me racist? Absolutely not, at least I think. I was raised to respect everyone regardless of skin color, and live by that. But I think my reaction in this circumstance, and the results of my test, are indicative of me not being raised in a diverse community. Everyone looked like me, and I never had to encounter or witness racism against people of color first hand. My test results prove that I am still getting over living in a very one-dimensional, homogenous community. It shows that I have stuff I need to work on as a result of being a white guy growing up in a nearly all white community.