Leadership, MA Program of Study

Leadership, MA Program of Study Leadership, MA Program of Study

Curriculum and Course Schedule

The MA in Leadership provides a supportive, challenging, and transformative learning experience to develop effective leadership needed in today's global world. Our curriculum consists of 8 courses, or modules. These courses span theory, skills, and practical application in the area of coaching and facilitation. The area of emphasis takes leadership philosophy and practice that is right for you and your work, all within the liberal arts traditions of creative analytical thinking, shared inquiry, collaboration, service, social justice, and social responsibility. A sample cohort calendar provides the program flow.

The 18-month program requirements include the completion of 8 courses (48 units) and submission of a learning portfolio.

Module I: Practice of Building a Learning Community

This course is an introduction and orientation to the MA in Leadership Program and establishes the foundation for success in the program in four distinct and interrelated ways. One, the course acquaints the student to key values, principles, concepts, practices and methods of the program.  Two, it helps to facilitate the transition into graduate level study, as well as into learning in an adult serving blended in-person and online program. Three, the course enables students to develop important skills that enable effective engagement in the coursework, with learners in the cohort, and in learning and practicing leadership within and outside of the program. And four, the course begins the journey in which a collection of individual learners who enter the program with unique backgrounds, needs, and aspirations, and eventually develops into a community of learners.

Your participation in this learning community journey provides you with the experiential ground for learning leadership as a relational and social process, which is seen by many as necessary for practicing leadership in an interdependent world. This leadership learning journey also provides you with practical knowledge in building learning communities in contexts in your work and life.


Module II: Values in Action

What has constituted leadership in our parents' generation, and the associated values and skills necessary to be successful as a leader, has changed dramatically in our lifetime. Globalization, multiculturalism, technology, and the ever-turbulent nature of organizational life require new kinds of knowledge and skills on the part of managers and leaders. What is your vision for making a contribution to this world, and what unique gifts do you bring? What combination of values represents your vision of leadership? This course seeks to provide language and experience to help us begin to explore both the inner and outer dimensions of leadership, through reading, writing, coaching, and experiential exercises. What role do our values, or soul, play in mediating between our inner and outer lives? We invite you to bring your whole self, shadow and light, into this exploration, where we explicitly hope to develop practical action in leadership suitable to the 21st century. Many of the concepts and practices introduced will be further developed in subsequent courses in the program.


Module III: Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Change

This course lays the groundwork for understanding and practicing a new paradigm of leadership; one that promotes meaningful systems change to transform people and their institutions toward a state of flourishing. Incorporating several key ideas, experiences and practices from the previous two courses, and utilizing a case-in-point pedagogy, this course provides a deep and expansive exploration of contemporary leadership frameworks and theories, their underlying values and worldviews. By delving more deeply into established leadership theories and perspectives, learners enhance their practice of leadership, taking to heart the oft-quoted view of the pioneering social psychologist Kurt Lewin, who said, “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” In other words, the course examines the interdependent links among experience, theory, practice, and development.

This course is intended to enhance one’s capacity to critically and creatively think about leadership, to be more inclusive of different perspectives and practices of leadership, and as a result be more responsive to different organizational and cultural contexts. We do this through learning about several key distinctions in the field of leadership theory from over the past decade, such as transactional and transformational, technical and adaptive, heroic and post-heroic, leader-centric and relational, and hierarchical and networked leadership. Another key distinction explored is the one between management and leadership and their interplay in organizational life.
Given the view that leadership is primarily focused on fostering meaningful systems change. The course also acquaints learners with the fundamental ideas of complex systems theory and systems change, drawing up the work of various systems theorists to explore such concepts as feedback, system levels, orders of change, and complexity, essential to addressing the complex and adaptive challenges in today's organizations. Finally, this course explores the role that action learning, innovation and creativity and transformative learning plays in leadership practice and its development.


Module IV: Equity, Creativity, Belonging, and Liberation

We live in an ever complex and interconnected global environment. In our multicultural society, one of the cornerstones of effective leadership is the capacity to engage differences creatively and support the flourishing of followers. More recently there has been a shift in how differences are understood and worked with - a shift that takes us into territory of belonging, to work towards equity creatively, in ways that are liberating. John a Powell encourages us to think about bridging, a “concept . . . [that] helps us investigate concepts of trust, social cohesion, reciprocity, civic bonds, collaboration, cooperation, communalism, and mutual aid” (p. 4). To truly understand differences requires a willingness to move across a line, or boundary, which defines that difference. The starting point is increasing understanding of one’s own dimensions of difference, often a difficult and disorientating task as we rarely notice “the water in which we swim.” Learners will examine their own histories and social identities and how these inform the lenses through which they approach cultural differences. They will be exposed to a variety of conceptual models and practical communication skills, which will allow them to make meaning of and engage effectively across differences to engage in bridging. Through review and discussion of articles of authorities in the field, they will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the diversity issues in the United States. They will then connect this learning to their practice of leadership.


Module V: The Art and Science of Coaching

This course represents a shift from a wide look at leadership and systems change to narrowing the focus to a particular way of practicing leadership through coaching other people in the learning and change process. If leadership is about helping people and the various organizational systems in which they participate engaged in the necessary changes in order to better adapt and fulfill their purposes and aspirations, then acquiring practical knowledge in how to do this with people then becomes an important capacity and skill. Coaching is thus viewed as a specialized focus of leadership practice to enhance your effectiveness in developing others, to improve their performance, to foster learning, and promote collaboration, all in service of personal and organizational goals and aspirations.

Drawing upon the variety of disciplines that inform the practice of coaching, such as psychology, adult learning, communication, and human performance this course acquaints the learner with the theories, models, and skills needed to effectively coach individuals and/or groups. The course offers ample opportunities for learners to explore the craft of coaching, to develop their skills, and their unique style. The course also focuses on coaching in organizational life as part of one’s leadership practice as a pathway for individual and organizational learning and change developing others. Attention to how coaching links with organizational goals and culture, as well as designing and learning from results- oriented actions, is explored as well.


Module VI: Group Facilitation and Team Coaching

In this highly practical course, learners become acquainted with the theories, methods, and techniques of effective facilitation in meetings and in groups. The course examines the various types and ingredients of facilitation, and the role of group dynamics and development involved. By engaging the learner's experience and opportunities for practice, the course helps identify and enhance one's unique approach to group and meeting facilitation, while increasing one's competence and confidence. Attention to how to design agendas, make appropriate interventions, address conflict, and foster collaboration are also explored. In addition, the course introduces a framework for ongoing practitioner development in effective group and meeting facilitation.


Module VII: Action Learning for Leadership and Change

This course is designed to provide participants with assessment, learning, research tools, and practice necessary to effect sustainable and collaborative change in their organizations and communities.  The course provides an overview of participatory inquiry strategies that are useful in initiating and sustaining significant change in human systems, ranging from small work units, divisions or whole organizations, and communities.  In addition to this overview, participants will learn in greater depth about two specific action research strategies–-action inquiry method (AIM) and collaborative inquiry (CI, also known as cooperative inquiry).

Learners are invited to integrate, demonstrate, and synthesize 21st century leadership practices as they carry out an action learning project in which they have a compelling interest.  They will design and implement an action learning case-study project using one of the action research methodologies on a topic that addresses a need, problem, issue, opportunity or question within a specific group, institution, or community. While drawing on the processes, values, skills, and theories learned so far in the M.A. in Leadership Program, the project offers the opportunity to practice 21st century leadership at the personal and organizational level. The action learning (case study) project serves to enhance learners’ existing practices of leadership in their lives and work, as well as prepare them for new opportunities to expand their practice of leadership in new roles and fields.


Module VIII: Leadership, Systems and Interdependence

As an integrative course near the end of the MA in Leadership program, Leadership, Systems and Interdependence draws upon elements from many of the courses that precede it, including:  Leadership and Systems Change, Building Cross-Cultural Capacity, Sustainable Organizational Change, The Art and Science of Coaching and Team Coaching and Group Facilitation.

Leadership, Systems and Interdependence

In this module learners examine ways of implementing change in their organizations, with an emphasis on employing the 21st Century Leadership practices. As an alternative to leader-driven change, learners will explore ways of using various strategies of engagement based on genuine human participation and interaction on both a micro and a macro level.