Leadership courses

Students in classroom discussing topic

A growing catalog of graduate and undergraduate courses introduce Ford School students to the fundamentals of leadership, and leadership tools that are effective in the public sector. Our coursework helps students:

  • Learn about leadership models and theories
  • Reflect on their own leadership behaviors
  • Consider and practice leadership skills they intend to leverage in the future
  • Apply what they learn to common leadership challenges in the public sector through case studies and engaged learning activities


Academic year 2022-23

View all leadership courses in the Ford School course catalog.

  • Instructor: Morela Hernandez
    Course listing: PubPol 582 (winter 2022)

    This course will introduce you to the fundamental leadership concepts and skills you need to successfully navigate and shape dynamic policy environments. You will have opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of yourself and build your ability to effectively lead teams. You will learn how to set a tone, a focus, and a direction for an organization, its members, and other stakeholders. You will practice leadership behaviors that will help you better connect across differences and enact change in complex, multi-layered contexts. Designed to provide you with opportunities for reflection, study, debate, and practice, this course will enhance your ability to make a positive and meaningful difference.

    Instructor: Morela Hernandez
    Course listing: PubPol 475 / 750

    There has arguably never been a more important moment in our history for leaders and leadership. Climate change, the war in Ukraine, unrest in the East, a pandemic, record inflation, and global supply chain disruptions are all coming together to create a great collision of uncertainty. These circumstances have given rise to some of the most challenging conditions in generations.

    Leaders have an unprecedented opening to develop new capabilities in how they interpret and generate meaning and purpose from this collision of uncertainty because, despite our current challenges, our world has been unfrozen from the shackles of routine, habits, and norms. By leveraging this moment to explore, experiment, and learn, leaders and their stakeholders have a unique opportunity to redefine the scope of our priorities and collective actions.

    The objective of this course is to explore how social reform, equity, and a recalibration of health-wealth trade-offs can become driving forces in the modern organization and manifest as core responsibilities for the leaders that shape them. In adopting a behavioral systems approach, we consider how decision-makers can enact positive, radical social change.

    Instructor: Amy Harris
    Course listing: PubPol 590

    This course is open only to MPA students.

    Students will approach course content from a number of different lenses: academic study, case writing and analysis, self-reflection and coaching, and application of new tools and skills. 

    In addition to the coursework, students work with a professional leadership coach for 6 sessions and complete a leadership assessment (most will use the Six Domain Leadership Survey (SDLS) provided by Delta Leadership). Based on course content and guidance from your leadership coach, you will explore your SDLS results, identifying areas of strength and opportunity. These explorations will culminate in a formal plan of action detailing how you intend to both improve your leadership outcomes and have a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and communities through your work. 

    Instructor: Brian Flanagan
    Course listing: PubPol 587

    In today's complex and dynamic world, leadership is in demand at all levels of every organization. Whether you are a senior leader, middle manager, or individual performer, there are leadership skills you can develop to maximize your influence and impact. In this course, we will build those skills in the context of nonprofit and other mission-driven organizations: from mastering and motivating yourself; to organizing and empowering others; to building distinctive workplaces where people feel trusted, supported, and challenged.

    Instructor: Surry Scheerer
    Course listing: PubPol 413/735

    The goal of this course is to enhance the students' ability to bring about the individual and organizational changes they want to see. This course begins by addressing (1) what effective managers really do and (2) why some high-potential managers succeed while others fail. As effective managers know, the ability to develop and manage relationships with others is critical to a manager's success. This course is based on three foundations: The first focuses on developing self-awareness. After all, managing relationships depends first and foremost on knowledge of individual personal strengths and weaknesses and the impact of these strengths and weaknesses on others. The second foundation focuses on developing an understanding of others. The third foundation focuses on managing specific types of relationships on the job—those with subordinates, peers, and bosses.

    Instructor: Attia Qureshi
    Course listing: PubPol 583

    Negotiation Basics for Public Policy will provide students with an understanding of the theory and processes of negotiation as practiced in a variety of settings. It is designed for relevance to the broad spectrum of bargaining problems faced by the manager and professional. Students will have the opportunity to develop negotiation skills experientially and to understand negotiation in useful analytical frameworks. Emphasizes simulations, exercises, role playing, and cases.

Future courses

Postdoctoral fellow Cat Owsik will teach a new undergraduate leadership course in fall 2023. Stay tuned for more information.

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