This phenomenological study examines innovative pedagogy and the integration of literature by professors in STEM, leadership, and professional programs to foster leadership. The study probes university professors’ personal experiences integrating literature, focusing on pedagogical strategies and practices. Many studies exist on the use of literature to develop empathy, analytical, or critical thinking in higher education. However, there is virtually no published research on the integration of literature in STEM, leadership, and professional programs to foster leadership skills. Existing theories on utilizing literature in the humanities also apply to its integration into STEM, leadership, and professional programs. Therefore, professors integrating literature have well-defined research on how literature fosters storytelling abilities, critical thinking, decision-making and other dimensions of leadership. Purposive sampling was used to select professors with expertise integrating literature. Individual phone and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 participants regarding the integration of literature. As a result, 636 coded passages were bracketed into 32 themes. The top three themes of the study included: (a) fosters leadership skills, (b) pedagogic strategies, and (c) Socratic Method. Two keys findings emerged. Finding 1, the integration of compelling literature developed leadership skills in next generation STEM, leadership, or professional students. Finding 2, the effective integration of literature required use of pedagogical strategies, which included: planning courses with a theoretical foundation, using guided questions for reading, and employing Socratic Method. Professors should select compelling highly regarded/relatable literary works with protagonists that make decisions and pair these literary works with other powerful autobiographies, theatrical or documentary movies/clips of the same subject matter. Recommendations include STEM, leadership, and professional programs add leadership through literature courses. These findings can be used for professional development training that center on fostering leadership skills. This study provides researchers and professors with strategies for utilizing literature to foster leadership.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Interdisciplinary approach in education -- Case studies; Science -- Study and teaching; Technology -- Study and teaching; Engineering -- Study and teaching; Mathematics -- Study and teaching

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;