AAU Academy LovePrague Course

Czech Heroes and Leaders II

Module II: Pioneers and Patriots: T.G. Masaryk, Františka Plamínková and Jan Palach  

30 Years of Education
Track LovePrague
Instructor Joshua Hayden
Format Four-week course
Delivery On campus / in city
Price 6,000 CZK
Language English

Course Description

There is no better place to study the practice of courageous leadership place in than Prague, Czech Republic. The people here have had to endure the direct turmoil of both of the 20th Century’s most infamous tyrants: Hitler and Stalin. 

This was the capital of an empire, a democracy, under a totalitarian regime, and back to democracy. In the midst of dark and challenging times, leaders in Prague have mobilized others to live by their principles, to live in truth even if it meant risking their lives and families.

This module explores the lives of a founder, a forgotten women’s rights innovator, and a human touch that helped ignite the Velvet Revolution. Prague owes so much to these three leaders who endeavored to lay down their lives symbolically and literally for a better future for their fellow citizens. These three will challenge us to examine the meaning of democracy, equality for all people, and our responsibility to civil society. They faced down anti-Semitism, Hitler’s agenda, and communist normalization. We examine three themes: empowering stories, the influence of networks, and visionary citizenship.

Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze the dynamics of leaders and followers by zooming in on the decisions, symbolic actions, perspectives, and tactics of leaders and collaborators within their context
  • Interpret the themes of living in truth, authenticity, and inclusivity in the practice of leadership 
  • Interpret leadership lessons through the reciprocal relationship between leaders and followers
  • Apply a thoughtful understanding of leadership through the lives of leaders to current leadership issues


This active learning course involves dialogue, experiential learning around the city, group activities and reflection. It is an academic course and the professor will provide insights from research, historical accounts, and leadership literature.

We meet in four sessions, two hours each, and tour Havel’s Prague for a unique Saturday experience.

Schedule and Course Content

For a detailed course schedule and content, please download the Course Outline.

Session 1

How do stories impact a leader’s influence? T.G. Masaryk’s journey from traitor to founder (2 hours)

In this session we will explore together the following:

  • How did Masaryk’s formation of character in his young life prepare him for the rigors of leading later on?
  • How is the nature of leadership similar and distinct from having authority? 
  • Is unpopularity important to good leadership?


  • Notebook/journal
  • Reading online

Session 2

Why are networks and allies so transformational in bringing change? Františka Plamínková’s journey from schoolteacher to international suffragette (2 hours)

In this session we will explore together the following:

  • Why have most people never heard of Františka Plamínková?
  • How are social and professional networks essential to strategic leadership?
  • What can Plamínková teach us about transcending our own personal and professional domains to enact change?


  • Notebook/journal,
  • Short articles online

Session 3

Is leadership for everyone? Jan Palach’s journey to visionary citizenship (2 hours)

In this session we will explore together the following:

  • Why is Palach a hero in the Czech consciousness?
  • What is the role of responsibility in the face of repressive systems like communism? 
  • What did Palach’s short life ignite in students and adults in the Velvet Revolution and today?


  • Notebook/journal
  • Article online

Power and Protest in Prague (4 hours)

We will take a unique guided tour of Prague Castle and Wenceslas Square to discuss the role of power, myth, responsibility and sacrifice in leadership. With special guests and critical discussion this will be a uniquely inspiring experience.


  • Walking shoes
  • Notebook/journal

Session 4

Leadership for what? Applying the lessons of pioneers and patriots to today (2 hours)

In this session we will explore together the following:

  • What legacy would you like to leave?
  • Is there an issue that you recognize there is an opportunity to “go first” in initiating some kind of change?
  • What do Masaryk, Plamínková, and Palach have to say to us today?


  • Journal/notebook
  • Leadership article online

Your Instructor

AAU Academy Instructor, LovePrague Courses
AAU Lecturer & Institutional Research Specialist

Josh Hayden earned his doctorate in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University in the U.S. and has published and taught in the field of leadership students for the past ten years. His research interests are Václav Havel’s moral leadership, leadership ethics and change, self-awareness, and adaptive leadership theory and practice. Josh led the Quality Enhancement Plan on Scholarship, Learning, and Academic Mentoring at Cumberland University and built executive education leadership programs at Lipscomb University, both in Nashville, Tennessee. He has worked with the community, educational and organizational leaders in Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Brazil. His wife and 4 children love the outdoors, the arts, sports, traveling, and he plays the banjo in his spare time.

See what our students have to say

We do almost all of our projects in small international teams, and we work together like we would in a business company and synergize our different ideas. There's flexibilities to meet with teachers outside of class, and ask them questions, not just specifically things we learn in the class.

Ann Connolly
Business Administration, United States of America

AAU makes networking incredibly easy to do. I was able to participate in various events that don't necessarily connect to my coursework like conferences, literature festivals, debates, lectures, etc. When I was President of the Diplomatic Club, AAU helped me get in touch with event-organizers, which, for example, allowed us to host an event during the Festival of Democracy organized by the famous Forum 2000 conference.

Anastasia Mezenina
Business Administration, Russian Federation

Meet the people

Dana Aleksic

External Outreach Manager dana.aleksic@aauni.edu

Eva Rivera, Ph.D.

Vice-President for Institutional Advancement eva.rivera@aauni.edu
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Do you have questions?

We are happy to help!

Rebecca Newhouse Admissions Counselor rebecca.newhouse@aauni.edu
Clea Boban Admissions Counselor clea.boban@aauni.edu