Graduate Program Electives
Knowing what to expect before you make decisions about your program can help you to maximize the time and investment you are making in your graduate education. Learning more about some of our courses can help you begin customizing a program that is best suited to meet your needs and goals. Keep in mind that courses that are required for one program may be an elective in another program
In the fast-paced, highly networked environment in which most organizations operate today, teams accomplish much of the work that gets done. In this course, students learn about the make-up of teams: characteristics, structures, culture and dynamics. They consider the role and function of individuals on a team, as well as the contribution teams make in the larger organizational context. A major focus is on the formation and development of teams and on leadership processes that enable high-performing teams. A core feature of this course is experiential learning: students participate on a number of student teams and reflect on and learn from their experience in light of current theoretical and applied perspectives on teaming.
Leading and Coaching Across Generations
As older workers retire and younger workers enter the workforce, organizations and society are being impacted by major demographic shifts. The implications for leaders and managers are both subtle and profound. Whether young or old, leaders need to understand age as a unique form of diversity that presents special challenges and offers exciting opportunities. Students not only learn about specific aspects of this diversity in today's workforce (e.g., how culture and values, facility with technology, approaches to collaboration, expectations for feedback and mentoring, and leadership styles differ by age group), but consider and develop strategies for effectively managing and leading people belonging to other generations.
Decision Making and Problem Solving for Leaders
A study of the theories of decision making is combined with case studies that illuminate the techniques and tactics of effective problem solving, with a focus on the role that leaders play in achieving desired results. Special emphasis is placed on effective team building through empowering team members to make decisions and solve problems.
Legal Issues for Leaders
This course teaches future leaders how the law impacts the decisions they make and how they may be able to use the law to further their objectives. It examines the relationship between the branches of government, the rights of individuals versus the state, the role of the courts, and the economic and other conflicts between organizations and individuals. Taught by leading attorneys, the course covers matters of current interest, such as sexual harassment in the workplace and lawsuits against gun manufacturers as well as how current issues of public policy in the law arise out of precedents and theory established throughout the history of the country. The attorneys rely extensively on actual cases that have been decided, as well as selected commentary on the law.
Leadership in the Virtual Workplace
With the digital age upon us, Leadership in the Virtual Workplace explores how the changes in the workplace (telecommuting, virtual teams, instant access, etc.) affect the ways we need to lead within organizations. Will current leadership models work in the new workplace? What will it take to lead effectively in the future? This course examines future trends, the impact of the Internet (including email), policy issues and leadership in the virtual organization. As a result of participating in this course, students understand the key leadership issues, different ways of leading in the new workplace and how one leads in a virtual organization.
Leading Organizational Change
Many view the primary role of a leader as leading organizational change. In this course, students demonstrate an understanding of the human experience of change and identify the likely impacts on people of various approaches to leading planned change and articulate relative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to change. In this course, students learn to meaningfully discuss basic concepts of change agency (e.g., leadership, diffusion of innovation, participatory leadership strategy execution, etc.) in the broader context of organizational theory (e.g., structure, function, culture, power, goal attainment, life-cycles, etc.). Further, they are able to analyze current practices in leading organizational change (e.g., Business Processing Re-engineering , restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, implementation of ‘lean' processes, and/or the practice of large-scale technical implementations such as Customer Relationship Management/Enterprise Resource Planning), identify critical success factors for effective change implementation, and evaluate relative merits of such approaches.
Creating and Maintaining a Healthy Organization
What is organizational health? This course looks at the role that leaders play in creating and sustaining positive workplaces that promote human flourishing. Students begin by considering basic issues in worker safety and conflict prevention then move to the cultivation of employee civility, employee engagement and pro-social behavior. Additional topics may include: valuing diversity and nurturing community, humane personnel practices, organizational justice, servant leadership and spirituality in the workplace.
Organizational leaders want to have maximum impact using the limited talents, resources and opportunities they have. Yet the world is becoming more complex, the pace of change is increasing, and it is harder to anticipate what the future will be like. The challenge for leaders is to leverage core organizational competencies to gain strategic advantage in an uncertain and ever-changing environment. This course explores strategic thinking and planning as key leader skills and culminates in the creation of an actual strategic plan. Students also learn how organizations can cultivate leadership at multiple levels and become more effective in generating and executing strategy.
Leading by Design
Is leadership an art, a science or an integration of the two? This course explores design, seen as a blend of creativity and engineering, and treats design as a rich metaphor for the work leaders actually do. As product designers transform the physical world, leaders serve as architects in a social world, designing and realizing preferred futures. In this course students practice leadership as design and complete multiple mini-design projects. Focusing on key design elements (such as context and environment, design intention, stakeholder interests, collaboration, verbal and graphic communication, the creative process and design patterns), students come to understand organizational leadership as a continual process of intentional co-design and re-design. (Recommended for second-year graduate students.)
Leadership for Turbulent Times
This course examines theories and concepts of organizational leadership as seen through the lens of the so-called "New Sciences": relativity, quantum theory, chaos, complexity and fuzzy set theory. The course focuses on leading change in rapidly evolving organizational environments so characteristic of today's corporate world. Students develop a functional working knowledge of how to operate as a leader in a climate where stability is rare and change, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are frequently the only constants. Students also examine models for leading and managing change and learn how to leverage collaborative organizational structures through teamwork. They discuss such topics as: virtual leadership and management, participative management, leadership in highly matrixed organizations, boundary-less organizations, empowerment, partnering relationships and alliances, and information networks.
Conflicts in Organizations
Building on knowledge and personal skills students gained in Conflict Resolution, this course considers conflict from an organizational perspective. Questions addressed include: What are the costs to employers of failing to address workplace conflict? What are ethical and legal frameworks within which conflict must be handled? What ways have organizations found effective for systematically resolving and preventing conflict? Other advanced topics in conflict resolution may include: violence in the workplace; interdepartmental, intergenerational, and inter-ethnic conflicts; ethical considerations in resolving conflict; and the growing practice of alternate dispute resolution (ADR). (Prerequisite: MLLS 714, Conflict Resolution)
Resources are the lifeblood of an organization. This course explores the importance of human and financial resources within the culture of organizations and the interdependence between the two. The course draws on current literature and student experience to explore resource management and focuses on the effective and efficient use of human resources within the boundaries defined by financial realities.
Leadership for Innovation
The ability to innovate and adapt in a world of constant change is key to any nation's thriving and competitive advantage in the twenty-first century global marketplace. Moreover, innovation is essential in all sectors: private, public, nonprofit, education and military. Evidence suggests that leadership is a key factor in enabling people to innovate. This course deepens student understanding of how both effective leadership and management are required to conceive and realize innovations of many types, including new products, work processes, technologies and social relationships.
Leading Mindfully: The Practice of Managing Oneself
Being mindful means paying attention, on purpose and non-judgmentally, to the present moment. A primary premise of this course is that the practice of mindfulness is foundational to the successful practice of leadership. Leading mindfully enables leaders to see more clearly, listen more deeply and respond more effectively through reduced stress, enhanced concentration and creativity, and improved resilience. Leaders who cultivate mindfulness create and sustain work environments which meet followers' four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability and hope. In this course, students gain an experiential understanding of mindfulness through rigorous training in numerous meditation techniques. Students also gain conceptual knowledge about mindfulness through study of the psychology and neuroscience of mindfulness. Finally, students integrate their experiential and conceptual learning through the application of mindfulness to important tasks of leadership.
Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
Social Entrepreneurship utilizes business entrepreneurial skills to foster and create significant social benefit or change that has tremendous impact on people and the world. This course introduces students to the dynamics of the field of Social Entrepreneurship. It provides the background of how the field has emerged into its current national and global existence. We clarify the differences between business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs. We help to make distinctions between social entrepreneurs and business enterprises, nonprofits, philanthropic organizations and social enterprises. Students are exposed to the major players in the field of Social Entrepreneurship and hear the stories that are changing people's lives and impacting the world. We investigate several global initiatives and discuss the backgrounds of Ashoka, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Skoll Foundation, Transparency International, Social Accountability International, Acumen Fund, etc.