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Leadership courses

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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. 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 2023-24

View all leadership courses in the Ford School course catalog.

  • Anticipated Winter 2024

    This course, structured as a seminar and writing workshop, intensively develops students' persuasive writing and critical reading skills through abundant practice and feedback. Weekly writing assignments and exercises will focus on every stage of the writing process, from brainstorming and research through drafting and revision, in three vital areas of political writing: the short opinion piece, the policy memorandum, and the polemical essay. We will read and analyze a wide variety of examples from traditional print and online media, from journalistic, government, and academic sources. We will also explore ethical considerations of policy writing, considering the ways in which our rhetorical choices, tone, word choice, even syntax construct our subjects and frame contentious issues for target audiences.

    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: Cat Owsik
    Course listing: PubPol 475.004

    This course will introduce you to the fundamental leadership concepts and skills you need to successfully navigate and shape dynamic organizational and 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 475.008

    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: Morela Hernandez
    Course listing: PubPol 582

    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: 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.

    Anticipated for Winter 2024

    The Ford School defines leadership as, "the behavioral process of having a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and communities". This course will equip students with the management skills and tools to strategically plan and implement initiatives that further their intended positive impact. The course will adopt an international focus in readings and casework, exploring strategic management for international social impact initiatives within the context of public and non-profit organizations. 

    Students will develop and apply an analytical toolkit and set of leadership best practices to manage for positive change, including: mapping their environment, strategic organizational planning, planning for results, and managing for results. In teams, students will create strategic and performance management plans for a public or non-profit organization that furthers a positive impact at the international level. These plans will be submitted as a group memo, and presented during class. Students will also complete an individual leadership reflection paper.

    Instructor: Amy Harris
    Course listing: PubPol 586.002, PubPol 587.002

    Conflict is an inevitable part of the human experience--in relationships, at the work place, in public administration and especially in the public policy making process. Unresolved conflict can hinder decision making and impede organization change, but when conflict is addressed, managed or transformed, it is possible for relationships, organizations, and systems to grow and succeed. Drawing on empirical research and case studies, this skills-based course will begin with a discussion of the impact of conflict in systems and a taxonomy of forms of conflict with an eye toward public administration. Then the course will focus on the development of strategies that can be used to resolve or manage conflicts, with opportunities for students to develop those skills through in-class exercises. Special attention will be paid to skills that can be used to address conflicts that emerge across differences such as race and ethnicity, political orientation, and gende

    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: Luke Shaefer
    Course listing: PubPol 589

    Conflict is an inevitable part of the human experience--in relationships, at the work place, in public administration and especially in the public policy making process. Unresolved conflict can hinder decision making and impede organization change, but when conflict is addressed, managed or transformed, it is possible for relationships, organizations, and systems to grow and succeed. Drawing on empirical research and case studies, this skills-based course will begin with a discussion of the impact of conflict in systems and a taxonomy of forms of conflict with an eye toward public administration. Then the course will focus on the development of strategies that can be used to resolve or manage conflicts, with opportunities for students to develop those skills through in-class exercises. Special attention will be paid to skills that can be used to address conflicts that emerge across differences such as race and ethnicity, political orientation, and gende

    Anticipated for Winter 2024

    This course examines negotiation and social influence strategies for policy makers in the public, non-profit, and for-profit sectors. The main goal is to teach negotiation skills and concepts to enable students to analyze situations and achieve success in negotiation and dispute resolution. Another goal is to examine social influence techniques, or ways policy makers can effectively communicate messages and persuade others. Students will engage in a series of two-party and multi-party negotiation exercises. This course focuses on public policy and management issues.

    Instructor: Morela Hernandez
    Course listing: PubPol 750:009

    Case studies are narratives about real-world problems that give students opportunities to practice making difficult decisions. They ask students to apply technical skills and theoretical concepts in complex situations to propose solutions that, like in the real world, have both benefits and costs. As well, case studies provide opportunities for the Socratic method, a form of cooperative dialogue based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking. In this class, students will learn how to create their own case studies, to generate narratives about complex real-world problems in useful ways. This is a crucial tool for policymakers. It is not enough for public sector leaders to marshal data, analysis, and reasoning to make arguments; they must also learn to craft compelling stories to bring about change.

    Instructor: Susan D. Page
    Course listing: PubPol 750:013

    Africa is the continent least understood by Americans; it is often presented by the media as a land of war, famine, drought, and poverty. This course will present Africa's contemporary reality, the positive as well as the negative by examining major current issues after briefly surveying Africa's history, geography, societies and culture. Themes covered will include: political developments; regional conflicts; human rights and fundamental freedoms; economic development (including the role played by international assistance); humanitarian crises and intervention; terrorism; population growth and urbanization; and public health crises (including Ebola and Covid-19). The course will focus on providing students with an in-depth understanding of the historical, as well as contemporary context to policy-making in Africa and provide them with an opportunity to analyze the successes and failures of policy implementation. 

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