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Emerging Leaders Study (ELS)

The Emerging Leaders Study (ELS) aims to investigate and contribute to the formation of emerging adults as productive, multicultural leaders.


We are particularly interested in how the activities of giving, believing, learning, and working are changing across generations and the implications of these changes for the future of cross-generational mentorship and social support.

The project involves three interconnected sets of issues in contemporary America:

  • The Millennial generation and the social changes this generational cohort represents.

  • Responses to the social problems and needs arising from recent social trends.

  • Changing leadership, redefined for a networked and globalized United States cultural context.

  • Patricia Snell Herzog, PhD

  • Shauna Morimoto, PhD

  • Casey Harris, PhD

  • Jared Peifer, PhD

Faculty Investigators
  • DeAndre' T. Beadle, MA

  • Christina Williams, MA

  • Tasmiah Amreen

  • Tiffany E. Hood

Graduate Students - Current & Former
  • Bryn Smernoff

  • Sanjana Venugopal

  • Tatianna Balis

  • Emma Turner

Undergraduate Students - Current & Former
  • Jada Holmes

  • April Moore

  • Grant King

  • Mackenzie Reed

Board of Advisors, in alphabetical order by last name: 

  • ​​​Elizabeth A. Armstrong, University of Michigan

    • Areas: ​Cultural Inequality; Organizations; Higher Education; Gender; Sexuality; Social Movements

  • Jeffrey Arnett, Clark University

    • Areas: Emerging Adulthood; Life Course Development; Social and Cultural Changes; Media Use

  • Richard Arum, University of California-Irvine

    • Areas: Higher Education; Digital Learning; Schools as Organizations; Social Stratification

  • De Andre' T. Beadle, University of Minnesota

    • Areas: ​Crime & Punishment; Life Course Demography; Urban Sociology; Youth & Emerging Adults; Religion 

  • Rose Brewer, University of Minnesota

    • Areas: ​Black Family Life; Class; Gender; Intersection of Economy; Race; Racism; Social Transformation

  • Patrick Carr, Rutgers University

    • Areas: Communities and Crime; Transitions to Adulthood; Rural Brain Drain

  • Tim Clydesdale, The College of New Jersey

    • Areas: Youth and Emerging Adults; Higher Education; Vocation; Culture; Religion​

  • Robert DelCampo, University of New Mexico

    • Areas: Generational Issues at Work; Underrepresented Groups; Management; Organizational Behavior​

  • Jason Houle, Dartmouth College

    • Areas: Life Course; Transition to Adulthood; Social Stratification; Health and Mental Health​

  • Jane Junn, University of Southern California

    • Areas: Political Participation; Public Opinion; Civic Education

  • Annette Lareau, University of Pennsylvania

    • Areas: Families; Parenting Practices; Cultural Inequality; Social Stratification; High-Net Worth Families

  • Peter Levine, Tufts University

    • Areas: Civic Education; Civic Engagement; Democracy; Media Literacy

  • Richard Settersten, Oregon State University

    • Areas: Life Course Development; Transitions to Adulthood; Age and Aging; Parenthood; Social Policy

  • Jessi Streib, Duke University

    • Areas: Social Class Inequality; Cultural Sociology; Marriage and Family; Qualitative Methods

The Millennial Generation

The Millennial Generation

The millennial generation is the largest generation since the Baby Boom generation, and the most diverse generation in the U.S. alive, with diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, country of origin, family configurations, gender expectations, and sexuality.

Generational Changes

Generational Changes

Various forms of organizational changes and generational misunderstandings share in common younger generations being increasingly hyper-connected with peers and often disconnected from institutions and adults.

Millennials and Emerging Adulthood

Millennials and Emerging Adulthood

The millennial generation is the first cohort to grow up with emerging adulthood as a widespread new phase of an increasingly elongated life course, with now a decade or more spent in between the parental support of adolescence and the institutional support of established adulthood roles.

Technological and Social Changes

Technological and Social Changes

Pivotal social changes are occurring as the first generation to grow up entirely online transitions into adulthood roles and changes existing organizational practices in an increasingly networked, transparent, and fluid social climate.

Leadership & Authority

Leadership & Authority

Leadership in this context includes traditional forms of organizational authority, such as business managers, nonprofit executives, pastors, and parents.

Social Impact

Social Impact

Leadership in this context also includes contemporary forms of social impact that are not organizationally specific, such as cultural brokers in social media, blogs, music, and other genres.

Networks for Social Action

Networks for Social Action

Millennials tend to think not so much in terms of organizations, at least not as their starting point for social action, but rather tend to view social action in terms of episodic activities, causes, and efforts.

Positional or Hierarchical Authority

Positional or Hierarchical Authority

Positional, hierarchical leadership is viewed as less consequential to the future of social influence, meaning different sectors (businesses, non-profits, universities, and religious congregations) newly share in common that they are all organizations seeking to retain relevance of positional, hierarchical, and traditional forms of authority with Millennials.

The ELS builds on two prior studies:


The first is the National Study of Youth & Religion (NSYR):

  • National & longitudinal data on a millennial cohort

  • Tracked across the life course: from adolescence into adulthood

  • Data include behaviors and thoughts about school, work, family, romantic relationships, philanthropy, media, morality, and religion


The second study is the Science of Generosity (SciGen):

  • National study

  • Adult Americans

  • Generosity: activities intended to enhance the well-being of others

  • Giving activities include:

    • Monetary donations

    • Volunteering

    • Political action

    • Blood donation

    • Organ donation

    • Estate giving

    • Lending possessions

    • Sustainability giving

    • Relational generosity 


The ELS returns to the same sample of respondents studied longitudinally in the NSYR, and combines prior topics from both the SciGen and NSYR projects with new content, specifically focusing on:

  • Life course changes as Millennials transition into adulthood

  • Increasing potential for societal leadership and generosity, and 

  • New possibilities for engaging in philanthropic and civic activities.

Copyright © 2018 Patricia Snell Herzog

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