The program puts student learning and success center stage. We believe that students learn best when their individual interests are stimulated within learning communities composed of diverse experiences and perspectives. We know that students excel when they are held to high standards by caring faculty and share mutual accountability with peer learners.
Deep learning in the research, theory, and practice of leading change is coupled with the development of research skills in order to engage in rigorous inquiry in the students’ areas of professional passion. The outcome is that as students practice the art of leading change, the application of research and theory guides their actions.
Rather than standardized tests and discrete courses that may have little relation to what is learned, the program’s curricular pathways are marked by demonstrations of student learning coupled with face-to-face residencies and virtual learning activities between the gatherings. As students make progress, their individualized paths within the larger interdisciplinary study of leadership and change become clearer.
Engaging in change processes in workplaces and communities provides each of us with a range of experiences and challenges. These perplexing dilemmas and thorny questions become the basis for rigorous inquiry as scholar-practitioners. Familiarity with a wide range of research methods—qualitative, quantitative or mixed—enables students to identify and develop competence in many varied modes of inquiry into the perplexing issues of their professional fields. The process of real-world application of original research empowers graduates to enhance their professional practice and have the potential for generative impacts to improve their workplaces and communities.
The program provides a culture of mentoring among our learning community. Students are guided and supported by all program faculty, not just one or two. Individualized advising is complemented by students’ personalized interaction with faculty as they evaluate assignments with iterative and challenging feedback.
The program nurtures a culture of collaboration among the members of the learning community. Despite being geographically dispersed, students and faculty collaborate in learning that focuses on students’ success and achievement of individual and peer learning goals. Building a community of collaboration requires trust and intentionality. Adult learners bring a wealth of experiences and diversity of perspectives to share with each other. The program believes in the power of peer learning and hosts venues that support peer dialogue including residencies and annual faculty-facilitated virtual proseminars. The program utilizes technology to do what it does best— help people stay connected when they are not co-located. The program has a custom-designed virtual platform, areas for student discussion, access to the writing center and library, one-stop student services, connection to student records and forms, and so much more. We also use Gmail, Google Hangouts, and the old-fashioned telephone to maintain high-touch communication and connection between students, faculty, and staff. Time and place become factors that enrich our geographically dispersed learning community rather than inhibit it.