Making Leadership and Global Issues Real for Doctoral Learners
Leadership and global issues such as sustainable development aren’t just buzzwords tossed around as topics for theoretical discussion in the School of Advanced Studies at University of Phoenix. They are a vital part of the curriculum that doctoral learners tackle during their content courses, and now, their residency courses.
“Within each of our doctoral programs, there is a dual component: leadership and the study of the specific discipline or professional field of practice,” says Ronald Hutkin, Ph.D., a full-time research faculty member in the School of Advanced Studies. “We want our learners and doctoral graduates to be well-versed in social issues so they can demonstrate their leadership and act as change agents. Then they can help other individuals grow, and help the organizations they lead have a social conscience.”
Scholar, Practitioner, Leader paradigm
Learning in the School of Advanced Studies is based on the Scholar, Practitioner, LeaderSM model, which incorporates lifelong learning (scholarship), social and workplace contribution (practice), and the ability to exert positive influence (leadership) in learners' academic, professional and personal lives.
“We have a strong commitment to continuous improvement,” says Dr. Hutkin. “We’re always looking for ways to help people and organizations grow.”
To demonstrate this belief, directors and faculty leaders in the School of Advanced Studies recently changed their methodology for conducting third-year residencies. Rather than discussing specific case studies—which have the capacity for learning, albeit from past issues—learners deal with two-word prompts on current issues such as “economic collapse”. They work in multidisciplinary teams to explore various aspects of the issue, and then come up with solutions related to their specific discipline such as Education, Nursing or Business Administration.
“We made these changes to our curriculum to highlight global issues with our learners,” says Dr. Hutkin. “And we’re starting to see increased awareness related to social and economic issues in dissertation proposals, as well as completed dissertations.”
A Culture of Change
“A lot of people have a fear of change. I see our scholarly leaders taking the fear out of change and becoming comfortable with something that is uncomfortable,” says Dr. Hutkin. “When our learners come in [for a residency], they say, ‘I’m nervous’ or ‘That took me out of my comfort zone’.”
Over the course of the third-year residency, as learners work collaboratively to discuss global issues and find solutions they can implement within their discipline, they realize it’s okay to feel uncomfortable.
“They deal with it in a safe environment and learn how to help others go through cultural change. Then they say, ‘I can really go out and use this to help my leaders and my colleagues’.”
And helping others cope with change is the hallmark of a good leader.
This article originally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education.