MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all professions. For this Master of Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas adding up to 30 total credits required for graduation.
This foundational survey course examines leadership through a creative lens. A key premise of this course is that we need the methodologies of artists and designers alongside those of scientists and entrepreneurs to undertake necessary transformational change and worldmaking. The in-demand creative skills introduced through this course, which can be applied at any scale and scope of endeavor, include: resourcefulness, adaptability, comfort with reinvention and failure, deep listening, empathy, critique, systems thinking, disciplined imagination, storytelling, facilitation, and community building. The course reviews major contemporary leadership theories and approaches; and students spend time considering their own leadership style, philosophy, strengths, and weaknesses. Finally, students develop a plan outlining key goals for their ongoing journey through the program and begin the process of documenting that journey.
By the end of this course students should be able to:
In support of a more inclusive, equitable society, this course invites exploration of a range of relational practices for cultural understanding and change, in response to calls for civic imagination and systemic transformation. It examines how practices of artists and other creators develop critical (lost) ways of knowing that are central to human development and how they support an increasingly called-for shift in leadership–away from one grounded in individualism, competition, scarcity, exploitation of people, and extraction of natural resources, but toward one grounded in self-organizing (or collectivism), collaboration, abundance, and care for both people and planet. Students will experience and reflect on resilience under pressure, their habits of relationship, somatic self-awareness, attentional capacity, decision-making in uncertainty, power dynamics, community-driven design processes, and creative placekeeping. This residency also fosters community building within the Master of Arts in Creative Leadership program itself and centers the value of intentionally formed networks, communities of practice, and peer groups. Individuals with shared goals support one another, exchange knowledge, develop skills, and advance thinking and progress in a particular domain.
How do you co-create workplaces where people can thrive and feel agency? Where policies, practices, language, programs and initiatives center values of anti-racism, inclusion, equity, and justice? What are the tools, frameworks, resources, questions, and approaches that can help “operationalize” a commitment into a reality? And what work do leaders need to do internally to undertake this change with others? These are among the questions addressed in this course. Key topics to be covered within the overarching themes of cultural competence and workplace inclusion are: recognizing and addressing biases; shifting a racist culture or climate within your organization; creating an anti-racist, anti-oppressive organization; the work of decolonization; equitable search, recruitment and hiring processes; and healthy conflict.
How is change funded if not with philanthropic dollars? How do you convert social capital to economic capital? What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), versus a cooperative versus incorporating as a 501c3 Nonprofit? When is a joint-venture appropriate and when is a partnership agreement a better option? This course examines both traditional and emerging business structures, financial models, and forms of partnership used to create and sustain social, cultural, or environmental change. A key premise of this course is that the business structure and financial model used by an organization should align and advance (not undermine or constrain) its social, cultural, and environmental values and ability to achieve its purposes beyond profit. After analyzing a range of examples and cases, students apply a methodology taught in the course to identify a business structure and financial model that will best reflect their values and the type of change they are seeking to advance.
This course introduces students to a framework and processes to address complex social challenges, grounded in the principles and methods of design thinking with elements from other schools of thought, such as social entrepreneurship, systems change, lean methodology, and community-centered approaches. Addressing such challenges requires a set of behaviors and mindsets that can be mastered and applied by intrapreneurs or entrepreneurs. Following a conceptual foundation, the course will shift to the analysis of case studies which illustrate the impact and potential scalability of design-informed solutions to complex social problems. Students will then apply tools they have learned moving from insights to execution in an iterative manner. Key steps in the process include:building empathy and relationships; visioning, identifying, and clarifying a community need; analyzing the larger environment in which a need or problem is situated; building coalitions for co-creation; prototyping one or more solutions to address the need; testing and evaluating those solutions; and developing ways to seed and scale the intervention for long-term social impact.
The course introduces students to management processes, practices and tools employed within decentralized networks, organizations and teams to support collective visioning, planning, decision-making, budgeting and operations. As a key component of this work, students learn to cultivate an agile mindset: that is, the capacity to respond to unpredictable and complex environments, a rapidly changing marketplace, disruptions stemming from the increasing interdependence of systems or internal feedback loops and learning. This course focuses on applying these practices to the challenge of leading self-managed teams, including hybrid and remote work that has become prevalent in the wake of the pandemic. This course will also examine the evolution of distributed autonomous organizations ‘DAO’ community-led entities without central authority that are fully autonomous and transparent and operate using blockchain technology.
There is increasing recognition that transformational change is needed to realize a just society where all life thrives, but less clarity on what this involves. During this course, students explore the essential role of collaboration across differences to imagining and realizing transformational change. In doing so, it honors the wisdom embodied by many indigenous groups and spiritual traditions and attempts to decolonize the practice of 'systems change.' This course additionally challenges the dichotomous relationship between culture and nature that is embedded in a Western worldview and, alongside the models for change from the natural world, asserts the critical role of creators, culture-bearers, as well as the capacities for (and fruits of) human imagination more generally to the processes of transformational change. Because culturally constructed paradigms shape social systems, this course additionally asserts that having the capacity to reflect upon, problematize, and transcend one's worldview is a critical capacity for change-makers and world builders. While, ’systems change’ work often stops short of incorporating such invisible yet critical domains of beliefs, identities, and worldview, this course integrates them. Ultimately, students identify creative ways to apply the principles and frameworks of this course to their personal and professional development, including to a progressive community change project.
This course focuses on the issues and trends in the area of ecological and regenerative sustainability, with attention paid to their interconnection to economic and social sustainability (e.g. environmental and social justice, inequity, and the North-South divide), as well as the role of art and design in sustainability. While a range of sustainability frameworks (e.g. triple bottom line, limits to growth, nature’s principles, and the natural step) are covered, students move beyond the goal of reducing harms and explore regenerative approaches. Students ultimately apply course concepts to design a regenerative approach to sustainability within a real-world context, and initiate a personal journey of transformation for regenerative leadership.
To graduate all students must complete a capstone designed to apply and demonstrate knowledge and skills gained through the program. The Creative Leadership Capstone is composed of a handful of components related to a Matter of Concern (a values-based change that one is seeking to address, galvanize, or realize): the planning and execution of a Community Change Project; the development of a Creative Leadership Praxis (drawing upon the learning portfolio developed over the course of the program); the design and delivery of a workshop or comparable knowledge-sharing experience; the completion of a written essay (or comparable work of thought leadership); and the presentation of one’s Creative Leadership Journey in the form of a Story of Self, Us, and Now. While all four capstone components are undertaken during Creative Leadership Capstone (7410), some elements are completed or fully executed when students are in Minneapolis for their final residency, Leader as Community Builder (7414). In CL 7410 students execute, evaluate and give a final presentation on their Community Change Project; design a workshop that they will test-drive in Minneapolis; produce an extended essay or other piece of thought leadership; and draft a Story of Self, Us & Now to be rehearsed, finalized, and delivered in Minneapolis. Both CL 7410 and CL 7414 are offered on a pass/fail basis.
This three-week course is composed of two online weeks and one long week in residence in Minneapolis. It is designed to work in tandem with Creative Leadership Capstone (7410). In the process of completing key elements of their capstone, or sharing this work with others, students demonstrate a range of skills that are necessary to Creative Leadership community building, including: empathy, perception, authentic interpersonal communication, active and deep listening, facilitation or community coaching, and effective storytelling or other methods for engaging / educating others. During the week in Minneapolis students share their Creative Leadership stories, knowledge, and skills with others; support the development of an MA Creative Leadership Community of Inquiry, Practice, and Care; and examine the work of local community builders who are effectively fostering conversation and collaboration across sectors to support the creative transformation of the Twin Cities. Successful completion of CL 7410 is a prerequisite for participation in CL 7414. Both courses are offered on a Pass/Fail basis.
By the end of this course student should be able to:
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